Started-from-the-bottom stories are common in R&B and hip-hop, and have been a part of music business stories since the modern industry began. Everyone knows a story about the poor bluesman or street rapper transcending his humble beginnings through the power of music.

August Alsina has a story that puts many of those rags-to-riches tales to shame. He's observed death from a young age, dealt with his parents' demons, and lost loved ones. He's gone from YouTube fame to homelessness to hit singles. His song "I Luv This Shit," with Trinidad James, has passed 4.5 million views, and his latest single "Downtown" with Kidd Kidd, looks like its on the way to similar success.

After The Product mixtape helped lead to his deal with Def Jam, and the DJ Drama-hosted The Product II helped launch his latest singles, August Alsina spoke with us about his career and upbringing. The singer's latest release, the Downtown: Life Under the Gun EP, was released today. But Who Is August Alsina?

As told to David Drake (@somanyshrimp)

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Also, make sure to watch Complex TV's August Alsina episode of Complex Individuals, exploring all the questions you wanted to know about your favorite artists.