19-year-old August Alsina hasn’t had the easiest life, but through the power of music his shine has come.
Inspired by the tragic death of his older brother, August looked toward music as an escape from the tough streets of New Orleans.
August recently collaborated with rapper Juvenile and producer Mannie Fresh on a new track and has way more collaborations in the works.
GlobalGrind caught up with August to talk about growing up in New Orleans, working with Juvenile, YMCMB and of course his new mixtape The Product.
Check out our exclusive video below!
GlobalGrind: So what was your inspiration behind your mixtape The Product?
August Alsina: Well, first off. Everything you hear on the mixtape is a true story. Basically, I let you into my life. For me, ‘struggle’ is inspiration. I dedicated that mixtape to my oldest brother that I lost last year. His birthday just passed on April 15 and I dropped that day in honor of him. That’s really the inspiration behind it. Just making him proud. I’m sure he’s proud about it.
Is August your government name?
Yeah, that’s my father and my grandfather’s name, but I’m a junior.
How has being from New Orleans affected your music?
First off, that just brings me back to my brother. I have family that was born and died there. I hold the culture of New Orleans close to my heart, period. It’s just the way we do things. From the way we talk and our demeanor- it plays a part into everything I do. I think growing up in New Orleans… it’s unexplainable. I got to shout out to Houston too. Houston played a part in making me who I am as well.
So who are some of your musical inspirations?
You know what. This is the funny thing. Everybody was listening to Juvie (Juvenile). Everybody was listing to the Hot Boys. Everybody was on that Cash Money movement. I actually wanted to rap. I had no clue I would be singing, but when God was giving out the gift of rapping, he skipped over me (laughs.)
I looked up to everybody from Lauryn Hill to Donny Hathaway, to Sam Cooke. The people that do it now, YMCMB, MMG, Kanye West, I respect other people’s artistry. This game, it’s not easy to make it in this industry. So all of these guys, everybody who is doing it right now, have inspired me.
Have you ever met Lil Wayne or Baby?
Yeah, shout out to Stunna Man. I have met Stunna and Slim – a couple of time actually. (Laughs)
If you could work with anybody who would you work with?
I love Beyonce. I would love to do something with her. You know what? I would like to keep it in the city. I would love to do something with Wayne. Wayne holds New Orleans on his back. I would love to do something over there with YMCMB. I just did a song with Juvenile and Mannie Fresh.
A lot of people don’t know this but Kanye West works with Mannie Fresh quite often.
Yeah, Manny is the shit (laughs.) I just did a song with them, that’s big for me. That’s New Orleans history – period.
What’s one of your favorite things to do besides make music?
You know what, to be totally honest. I’m really always doing music. I live in Atlanta now. My team is here, so really it’s all day.
I sent you to a deserted island and you could only bring three albums with you, which three albums would you bring?
Aww, man! Why would you do me that?! (laughs) I would bring The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, I would bring Juvenile 400 Degreez. And I would bring, Biggie Ready To Die. Those are my three. I would be able to survive off that. (laughs)
What’s your most prized possession?
This moment right now, the gift of music. The gift that God gave me to sing. I’ve only been singing for five years and I put my all into it.
So how did you get discovered?
I started putting videos on YouTube. I was about… I would say 14. I was really rough looking. No fancies, no clothes, just a shirt and a hat on my head and just singing. I tried it out. My mother had bought me a video camera and she figured I should start doing the videos. And we put it up and we got a good response. I was back and forth from New Orleans to Houston because of some of the things that were going on in my household. So I kind of stopped and fell into this thing with my cousins and all of that. Then it was really a wake up call for me when my brother got shot and lost his life. It was like, ‘I have to do this.’ I was like ‘God gave me this shit in order to save my life.’ I was done. I didn’t go back. I was just fed up with everything. I got into some other shit that I shouldn’t have been involved with, and this music shit was a gift from God to save my life. I was either going to be dead or in jail.
So music has kind of been like your savior right?
Yeah. That’s exactly what it is.
Has there ever been a time when you felt like giving up?
There’s always those times. Even before the music. I found myself sleeping in corner stores because I didn’t have anyplace to go. And it was just me and my decision. Becoming a man and not depending on anybody.
So how old are you?
You’re still a baby. But you’ve been through a lot.
(laughs) I’ve lived. Man, I’ve lived.