Album Rating System 3 1/2 out of 5 records
Bad boy R&B goes hand in hand with young women who like a guy with an element of danger. The type of guy that women like to make their projects so that maybe one day he’ll be converted, not into a good guy, but a refined bad boy that’s become a One Woman Man. Earlier R&B acts like R. Kelly, Jodeci and Jagged Edge personified this quality that gave R&B a raunchier nuance. Silk’s 1993 hit “Freak Me” and R Kelly’s “Feelin’ On Yo Booty” left little to the imagination for old-school R&B fans that grew up in a time when mature themes in songs were suggested rather than blurted out.
Well, there’s a new bad boy in town and his name is August Alsina. The New Orleans native who released his first studio album, Testimony, through Def Jam Recordings is carving out a lane for himself. Testimony celebrates the rewards of a young star on the rise and details Alsina’s periled life growing up in the Big Easy. His stepfather has a history of drug abuse, along with his biological father who passed away a few years ago. Circumstances have caused him to have a rocky relationship with his mother. And his brother, who he was very close to, was murdered in New Orleans. All these things reflect in his music.
The first song, Testimony, is as self explanatory as the title. “I remember waking up/Being broke but still it wasn’t breaking us/I remember why I broke the rules/Cause I ain’t really have nobody to look up to…I’ma tell the truth and the whole truth/Cause there ain’t no need to lie/And I ain’t tryna keep it all inside/So, I gotta testify for you and I.”
Alsina merges real life personal drama over ratchet beats. As entertaining as Testimony is, its undertone is that of a sensitive young man trying to find his way with newfound success. With all these things coming to him at once how does he handle it?
Some of the material is a little cliché – money, sex, and women, but those narratives are delivered with an unapologetic honesty that makes you respect his position. The album’s lead single, “I Luv This Sxht” featuring Trinidad James is a shameless plug embracing all his vices. “So, I’ma keep on drinking cause I love this sxht/And I’ma keep on smoking cause I love this sxht/And I’ma keep on grinding cause I love this sxht…”
In “Make It Home” featuring Young Jeezy, Alsina juggles between staying home with his significant other and going back to the streets to make a quick buck. He chooses the latter. “But if I don’t make it home tonight/Tell my mama that I love her/Leave some flowers for my brother/Girl I love ya.”
Testimony has 15 tracks with 7 features from Hip Hop powerhouses like Fabolous in “Grind & Pray/Get Ya Money”, a non-judgmental stripper’s appreciation dedication, “FML” featuring Pusha-T, “Ghetto” featuring Yo Gotti, “Benediction” featuring Rick Ross, and “Numb” featuring both B.O.B. and Yo Gotti. Alsina could have scratched half of these features, as he is strong enough to carry the album by himself. Like most new artist who need street credit their by association with rappers, Alsina possesses enough of this on his own.
Released on his late brothers birthday, Testimony, gives you a glimpse into Alsina’s layered experiences. With production from DJ Mustard, Knucklehead, The Featherstones, Jasper Cameron and Drummaboy, to name a few, Testimony, is engineered to give R&B fans that good ole ghetto love.
© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2014
Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group
Inspired by: AFB