Divalicious Dish

Exclusive: August Alsina Unfiltered

The DivaGals dish with singer August Alsina.
Credit: Def Jam Records

August Alsina may be hip-hop’s newest intellect (though he wouldn’t want you to categorize him into any one music genre). Born into the streets of New Orleans, August used music as a way to escape his tough young life, which included family members battling drug addiction and the gunning down of his older brother, just before August’s 18th birthday.

Now the 21-year-old singer is captivating his audience with music that taps into his life experiences, creating a new anthem that can’t be denied. And he’s collaborating with some of the best in the business, including Chris Brown and Trey Songz.

The DivaGals got a chance to chat with August to find out what motivated him to pursue his career – and what will keep him going, despite the temptations fame often brings.

DivaGals: You started pursuing music after being inspired by a movie. What kept you inspired to continue your career?

August Alsina: It came at a point where I really didn’t have a choice. I knew I liked to sing, and I knew I enjoyed music. But after my brother got murdered, I realized that I got to do something because if I don’t, I’m going to be in that number, or I’m going to be in jail. That really made me take it more seriously than I ever took it before.

DG: You put yourself on YouTube?

AA: I was never really on YouTube to get discovered. I was on YouTube in a big ass t-shirt with one of my brother’s big ass heads in the background, but I wanted to sing. That caught the attention of somebody who knew somebody. They introduced me to my management now, and we started rocking. They were like give us six months, and I didn’t have sh*t to lose but my life with the way I was living, so I just said, “here I go.”

DG: How would you describe your sound?

AA: I don’t like to be put in a box – don’t marginalize me with an R&B title. I say that with the utmost respect to the R&B culture because I’m all about it and supporting other brothers who sing it. But I think there has been a stereotype on R&B that has a lot of people confused, and a lot of people who can’t be who they are musically. I just do me. If you want to give me a title, just call me August, because it comes from my soul and where I live and where I come from.

DG: You had a challenging childhood. Has that affected the type of music you write?

AA: Of course, I’d be lying if I said no. My album is coming this year, and you’re going to have the opportunity to get all up in my business on my album. I’ve never been that type of person to just tell you my business. When I was recording my album I struggled with, “damn, am I giving too much of me to the people? I am making someone else look bad by telling his story?” But at a point, it is what it is. I do use my life in my music and I use it as therapy. I don’t use it just as therapy for me. There’s a lot of motherf**king people out there – a lot of young boys and girls that need somebody to relate to, so I’m cool with being honest. You judge me for who I am and you can like it or not. But I know I can help somebody by being honest with whom I am.

DG: What are you looking forward to on your first tour?

AA: Just the whole experience. I’ve been on tour; I was touring with Kelly Rowland. But this is at a different level. I’ve never had a bus, and I’m one of the people main people that people are coming out to see, so it’s a milestone that I’m proud of. I’m really just looking forward to the whole experience, just to see how it will all go. I’m fresh and brand new with it and I’m excited to see how it runs. I know it’s going to be exhausting, but ain’t too much that I can’t handle. I’m a hustler. I’m excited about the hustle most of all, honestly.

DG: How are you going to stay focused and not get caught up in all the temptations that comes with being on the road?

AA: I just was having this conversation: How do you allow yourself to get caught up in all that? I have so much sh*t on my shoulders that I don’t have time to focus on a girl right now. I don’t have time to focus on partying. I have to keep doing what I’m doing times 10. I’ve never really been one to let someone take me off my game. There’s a bigger picture, and I got to see it. What motivates me most is me being able to sit and talk with a Jay Z or Beyonce, to know they how hard they work and what they did to get where they are. I’m not comfortable having one number-one record or just have my song featuring Trey Songz and Chris Brown. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure you see me for what I’m really doing. I have a plan and I haven’t executed it yet. That’s how I keep myself from being distracted.

DG: Do you see yourself becoming a mogul like Jay Z or Diddy one day?

AA: I see myself being like me. I mean, I see myself filling the shoes that Jay Z did, and there’s a lot of sh*t I can learn. I see myself being whatever God has in store for me. I want to do it. But if we put it like that, I see myself being like an Obama, I see myself being a jigger, all of that. Whatever God got for me, I’m going to be that, believe that.

August’s tour kicks off at the House of Blue Boston on February 4.