I remember waking up, being broke, but still it wasn’t breaking us. / I remember why I broke the rules, because I ain’t never really had no one to look up to.” Within the first 45 seconds of breakout singer August Alsina’s major label debut, Testimony, he sets the tone for the heartfelt, memoir-esque body of work to follow.

In a similar fashion as his previous installments of The Product mixtape series, Alsina produces music that is gritty and raw and speaks to his experience growing up in New Orleans. Whether he is sharing with his fans that he was “Right There” where they are, a frustrated dreamer wanting out of the street life, or telling his girl what to do if his past life catches up with him and he doesn’t “Make It Home”, Alsina presents aspects of his life that are easy to relate to, and appreciate. And he shines when he professes his love for his “Mama”. No matter how many songs are done honouring mothers, it is a topic that never grows old. And although August doesn’t follow the typical R&B formula of back-to-back love, sex and relationship songs, he does take time to let the ladies know that he’s not ready to be tied down on “You Deserve” and “No Love”.

But it isn’t just a compelling story that makes this testimony worth listening to; August Alsina makes sure he bares his soul through catchy choruses, no better illustrated than on the previously release “I Luv This Shit”, sultry melodies and production.

After having lost his father to drugs, and then his best friend, followed by his brother to the streets, Alsina has no doubt suffered great loss. On “FML”, which has a fitting feature from label mate, Pusha T, Alsina sings: “Let me tell you bout myself / I’m not scared to die, been through so much shit sometimes I wanna be in the sky.” Although that may be how the 21-year-old once felt, if this album is any indication of the success that’s coming his way, hopefully he knows he has a lot to live for.

On Repeat: Testify, Make It Home, FML, Kissin’ On My Tattoos
Flow: 4 // Creativity: 3.5 // Lyrics: 4 // Vocals: 4 // Overall: 4

Words By. Priya Ramanujam