"Testimony" is a riveting, authentic debut from the Def Jam signee August Alsina.
2014 has been quite the year for debut albums thus far. Already, weâve seen debut studio LPs from Cali artists Kid Ink, ScHoolboy Q, and YG. Now, about a year after he first splashed into mainstream Hip-hop/R&B, New Orleans singer August Alsina delivers his Def Jam debut album, Testimony. In 2013, Alsina released the radio-buzzing single âI Luv This Shitâ featuring labelmate Trinidad James, and the club-friendly âNumbâ with B.o.B. and Yo Gotti. Despite their popularity, both of these jams fail to appear on the standard edition of the album. Instead, Alsina aims for a less mainstream, more soulful approach to Testimony. And it undoubtedly works.
The date of the the albumâs release, April 15th, holds special meaning to Alsina because his brother was shot and killed on that same day a few years ago. On the albumâs intro, âTestify,â he sings about how his brotherâs death has inspired him to keep grinding. âHeard my brother got gunned down, and it hurt me to my heart/ So I kept grindingâ, kept pushinâ, he told me to go far.â In fact, a large portion of the albumâs subject matter is about the struggle, and Alsinaâs past days on the corner selling dope. It hasnât always been easy sailing for the singer, as he describes on the following track, âMake It Homeâ.
âSee I done dodged a couple shots, served a couple blocks/ hit a couple corners tryna shake a couple cops/ I broke a couple rules, didnât graduate from school/ âCause I was busy hustlinâ when I thought that shit was cool.â
For R&B artists, August Alsina is probably harder than anyone in the genre. Although his voice is easing, donât get it twisted- heâs about as gangster as singers come. His authentic storytelling can be heard throughout the album, as he puts his blood, sweat, and tears into every word he songs. If Testimony is one thing, itâs honest. Alsina pours his heart out for songs that both trappers and hustlers can relate to.
Of course, Testimony has its fair share of songs devoted to the ladies, as all R&B albums do. Perhaps the most outstanding of them all is âPorn Star,â a passionate ballad with an extraterrestrial beat made by DJ Spinz. Alsinaâs silky voice bleeds with emotion as he screams over the songâs wavy production. Another canât-miss highlight is his collaboration with Fabolous, âGet Ya Moneyâ. The Dun-Deal produced anthem features an irresistible hook sung by Alsina, and a niiice Loso verse to top it off. Not much to complain about there.
If Testimony has one set back, itâs that the album lacks a sense of thrill. A few songs on the album seem to drag on at times, and even begin to sound repetitious. This is good and bad. As a whole, Testimony is a well sequenced project that has little to no air pockets. There arenât any tracks that sound out of place, which is nice, but the boundaries arenât necessarily pushed. The most exciting songs on the LP are arguably the three previously-released bonus singles: âNumb,â âI Luv This Shit,â and its respective remix. Had August Alsina included more club-popping songs, the album would have truly shattered expectations. Yet, at its core, Testimony is an honest, genuine, southern R&B album. Certainly no flop for the Def Jam signee.
The album comes to a close with the Mastermind-assisted âBenedictionâ. The outro track picks up where âTestifyâ left off, as Alsina sings about the tragic loss of his brother, and how the struggle has changed him.
âSo many nights I tried/ To hide how I felt, I would cry inside/ And I ran through the streets till my feet got tired/ Cause I ainât wanna have my shoes on them power lines.â
August Alsina made it out the trap alive, and now he is at the forefront of R&B. Testimony vividly paints a picture of the singerâs rough past, and what heâs overcome to reach the top . Now that heâs here, thereâs no looking back. Testimony cemented Alsina as a household name for years to come; definitely a dope debut.