With a request, I decided to also do a throwback review from one of hip-hop's underground artists, August Alsina. With Downtown: Life Under The Gun EP which was also dedicated to his lost brother, August comes off the EP with a singular success that probably not most other underground rappers would achieve nor try to. What is it that you might ask? Well, it is a bit of a long shot but it seems August has not only put his pedal to the ground, but also maintained his solid approach to the music industry.
When you look at underground rappers, sometimes they either go disastrously bad with their first EP, or make a big hit (Imagine Dragons with their Continued Silence EP, though they had It's Time which was promoted alongside The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, so probably not the best comparison) that could turn them into potentially record-tasting signings. August is currently signed to the Def Jam Label where his camped up with some RnB singers and some questionable rappers (2 Chainz). Perhaps he's doing well at the moment? Either way, he had to impress with this EP and man, did he thrive well.
He didn't do bad, but for most underground artists, August certainly threw a competitive punch that felt more like a direct uppercut. The voice in August Alsina is probably the cream of the crop for the album, and is definitely the highlight. While not entirely the best, it is fluid and does warrant solid ground for him. The lyrics, sometimes flat and out of flak, didn't really feel all that 'put into effort', but rather just 'make do with it' sort of method. That doesn't necessarily make the EP bad, but it does show the audience that perhaps the lyricism wasn't well thought out or to focus more on vocals than what's taken at face value.
The only single, I Luv This Shit featuring Trinidad James, was decent. The lyrics could be better and while having no feature is better, Trinidad James did okay. It certainly was a similar case to all features on the album, with just baseless and un-unique flows that don't really build, add nor improve the song. At the same time, Kidd Kidd rapped with a distinct flow that reminded me of Motion Man in Linkin Park's Enth E End on Reanimation, but it didn't really capture any attention at all. Curren$y was probably the better out of the four. Rich Homie Quan was... sub-par. Not at all emotional, void of power and just doesn't fit in with the song in Ghetto. With that said, it so has to happen that August was a brighter star than his features and in the end, provided the main show and let the others become a distraction that really detoured from some of the songs.
Like I said previously, the lyrics on the EP is lacking in all directions. It probably has to do with some of the subject matter that it inherits from on the songs, such as Ghetto and Let Me Hit That. These songs show a very sensual tone rather than being serious (maybe it was balancing both in Ghetto). Still, the EP has also other tracks to make up for it, namely Hell On Earth, Nobody Knows and Survival Of The Fittest. These songs are more emotional, provide a unique baseline coupled with overly decent instrumentals, especially on Nobody Knows; the piano on the song is just crazily ferocious that really grasps you about and brings you toward the song even closer.
7.5/10: All in all, a decent EP, if not a good one, but definitely not great. There are some highlights on the EP and I can see August perhaps landing a mainstream hit in the future as he definitely has the potential to cause such a ruckus. Let's see what he's up to now, considering this EP is a strong one. He definitely also needs to work on his lyrics and subject matter to progress higher, considering the tracks are stuck in the middle and are disparate from the other tracks. Most underground artists don't even have such a strong start to their career.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.