It’s been an enigmatic rise to mainstream success and popularity for August Alsina. The 22 year-old New Orlean’s singer has successfully and thoroughly bridged the proverbial gap between Hip-Hop and R&B with one fairly simple message, authenticity. “The Product” mixtape series set the tone for not only how real and raw the ideology behind his music is, but also how his life is a direct representation of those same concepts he sings of. His smash single “I Luv This Shit” which won the Viewers’ Choice award at the 2014 BET Awards, (along with winning Best New Artist) transitioned him from an artist who shined in the mixtape world, to a rising star capable of crafting lasting records that make major impact. That aforementioned capability was further witnessed on his “Downtown: Life Under The Gun” EP and his Def Jam debut “Testimony.” Aside from the extensive catalogue he’s been able to manifest in such an expedited period, the short lived “beef” with Trey Songz, the 106 & Park incident, and truly speaking his mind at all times has made August a polarizing and intriguing figure. He embodies Hip-Hop culture, so much to the point where XXL felt it necessary to add him (and Ty Dolla $ign) to the Freshman cover, making him one of two R&B artists to ever grace the magazine’s coveted class. In an age where melody is integrated into rap records more often than not, the argument can be made that August is singing his way to being one of the realer and more convincing artists in the game. He makes an equitable number of records for the ladies as he does for the hood, and in Rhythm & Blues, that’s a rare commodity. Sure, contextually rugged crooners have come before him, but being able to witness the rise, tribulation, and triumph from a young singer displaying his street life mentality to the world, is what sets him apart from his predecessors. Any love song can spark emotion, but feeling the pain, loss, and struggle through his words as if they were your own realty, is why he’s universally embraced across the spectrum and why people are tuning in to hear his ballads broadcasted live from the perspective of the streets.