August Alsina impressed on his debut album and his knack for good music, remixes and consistent visuals made him a surprising breath of fresh air in an R&B lane dominated by Trey Song and Chris Brown. Over the last year the music hasn’t been as rapid and the arena of music he found success in has been flooded with newcomers like Tory Lanez, Bryson Tiller, Elijah Blake, Guordan Banks and even Ty Dolla $ign. Still the release of the sophomore album, This Thing Called Life is an opportunity for Alsina to prove he’s the real deal and here to stay. With little buzz and only two songs really buzzing it’s almost a surprise how good the new album is. This Thing Called Life may even be better than the first release.
This Thing Called Life finds August in a very real and thoughtful place. Testimony was an opportunity for fun melodies, some club bangers and features with as many names as possible. Songs like “Make It Home” still featured a stark reality of the hood, but “Get Ya Money” and “I Luv This Sh*t” were more on pace with the album’s overall theme. This time the album is overwhelmed with painstaking, questions. A true man, and artist is revealed, one who has found success but hurts over the loss of his brother, and the problems that having money have come with. The intro finds Alsina questioning it all, but right from the first song, he snaps back into the reality of the hustle. “Job” teams him with Anthony Hamilton and Jadakiss for one of only three tracks that have a guest appearance. Takes a confident R&B artist to let Anthony Hamilton sing your hook, but the track is a perfect set-up for what’s to come.
The single, “Why I do It?” is another one of those questions, but instead of answering, August flips it back on those asking. Vintage Lil’ Wayne provides an assist. “Hip-Hop” was another single, though it never really matriculated. It does however feature a clever sample and sits perfectly in the early ebb of the album. “Song Cry,” the latest song buzzing from the project is the one that’s really supposed to take this project over the top but it may just be too real, too emotional.
This might be a bold statement but I think August Alsina does with his sophomore album a better job than Kendrick Lamar did at making a relatable album that reflects the struggles of a young man with a little bit of success but a lot of questions. It won’t receive the same accolades but It deserves the praise. A song like “American Dream” really say it all about this.
This is a special album in that there really isn’t any reason to hit the skip button and not one song does anything to disappoint. August and the album’s co-executive producers/co-writers The Exclusives did a wonderful job at piecing this project together and satisfying old fans as well as new listeners. No sophomore slump and more importantly, August proves he can lead the pack of the next generation.
I guess at this point it should come as no surprise. August Alsina is a great artist who makes great music…