August Alsina: "I know it's something that I've always had. Just some sort of love, a strange connection to music. I'll tell you what's crazy: Nobody in my family is musically inclined, no form, fashion, anything. I always had some type of connection to music though. This was long before I ever knew that I could sing, or I ever even tried to start singing. It was something different, man, it made me feel some type of way.
"Of course, growing up in New Orleans, listening to the Hot Boys and seeing what Baby and Juvie and all of them was doing. They paved the way for us, everybody wanted to be like them, like The Hot Boys.
"It's funny, because down the line I actually was singing and not rapping. I guess when I really knew I just loved music and had some type of connection with it was when I heard Lauryn Hill singing something on Sister Act 2. She was singing this gospel song, ['His Eye Is on the Sparrow']. So I heard her singing that, and I just was, the shit just made me feel something that I never felt before. I was like, 'Wow, I want to do that shit. I really want to do that shit.' Honestly man, out of nowhere I just started singing. [Laughs.]
Around the time I first started getting into music, Fantasia, John Legend was out...but Lyfe Jennings did something to me.
"I just started singing, it was like, this shit is cool, I like the way it makes me feel. I just started fucking with it. I had to be about 14. Around the time I first started getting into music, Fantasia, John Legend was out...but Lyfe Jennings did something to me. As a young kid, he did something that stuck with me, that's still with me right now. I just know the way that his music made me feel...what it meant to me just to hear somebody else struggling, hear somebody else's story. But for it to be so musical and creative at the same time, man, that shit is dope. I fuck with Lyfe hard, man.
"I was up on all the rappers. I was up on Juvie, I was up on Baby, I was up on Wayne, I was up on Soulja Slim, all of that. And of course Pac. Everybody love Pac. I think 'Dear Mama' might be my favorite Pac song. Or 'Changes.' I don't know, then 'Brenda Got A Baby.' You know, Pac got too much shit, I can't choose one song man. [Laughs.]
"When I started singing, I was going to school. I remember some of the people in school singing, and they had a choir. I would just watch and listen. Finally I started at least attempting to try to do what they was doing. When I was younger, we started going to church. I can't say that we were always, you know, the most church-going people.
"At some point, when my step-pops—and this is deep too, I never really dig this deep into my life like that with motherfuckers—when my step-pops was battling his addiction, he wanted to move to Texas, because his family is in Texas. He felt like it was a better place for him to be, he wouldn't be in the habit with so much access to drugs or whatever. But even moving from New Orleans, he still was into the same thing; it was hard to shake. So we moved to Texas for a minute when I was younger for him to try to shake his shit, but basically kind of the same things was going on."