FROM AUGUST ALSINA'S PERSPECTIVE:
On making r'n'b music that is not strictly baby-making music:
I’m just speaking about me, what I do and what I’ve lived. I’m 20 years old, so I talk about what me and other 20 year old niggas are doin. Baby-making and love songs are cool, but that’s not the entire scope of a nigga’s life. There’s some real shit goin on out here.
On his biggest peeve with current r'n'b:
My biggest peeve is actually in your first question. The fact that you asked me about baby-making music is the problem. R'n'b is stereo-typed and put in a box, and most R'n'b artists are comfortable stayin in that box. That’s why I don’t like the "R'n'b" title for me. What people think of when they hear r'n'b, doesn’t represent me. Just because you sing doesn’t mean you can only talk about love, sex and heart break. Rap niggas can talk about anything they want.
On his goals for the industry:
I have goals in mind for myself and my music, but not the r'n'b genre. I want to inspire someone in a bad situation to get on their feet and get out of it like I did. If they see that I can do it then they’ll know that they can do it too. Doesn’t matter if that person, sings, raps, goes to school, or works a 9-5.
On how the song concept for "Downtown" came about:
When people think New Orleans they automatically think Uptown, Magnolia, Calliope, the East, etc. All of the neighborhoods made famous by the NO legends. So I wanted to make a record that represented where I’m from, Downtown (and Kenner City). Me and my team, The Exclusives and Knucklehead, were in the studio vibin'. Knuck and Los laid a track and we started to just tell the story of how I grew up and what you witness being from Downtown.
On if the story in "Downtown" was a real-life experience for August:
Everything in that song is 100% real life. Growing up wasn’t easy, but you gotta play the hand you’re dealt. Those experiences, bad and good, made me who I am today. It’s easier to put it in music than it is to talk about it.
On how August decided on Kidd Kidd for the feature:
We’ve never worked together before but I’ve always been a fan. He’s from Downtown, and he’s been one of the only niggas really reppin Downtown so it only seemed right. We sent it to him and got it back to us the next day. Killed his verse.
On if he writes all his own stuff:
I write with my team The Exclusives. We’ve been rockin for a couple years now and they get me and understand my direction. Most of what I do is personal and unique to me, so I don’t deal with a lot of people. I’ll come up with stories and ideas, then we’ll get together and vibe out song.
On his first reaction when he heard the beat:
When I first heard it I knew it was some real shit. The beat already had emotion in it. We came up with the idea after we heard the beat and tried to make something to match that emotion.
On his favorite line from "Downtown":
My favorite line is the most hurtful line... “Real talk, when I heard who it was heart damn near stopped... somebody done killed my brother”. No explanation necessary.
FROM KIDD KIDD'S PERSPECTIVE:
On if he recorded in-studio with August:
Actually August emailed it to me and I did it the same night.
On if this track touches home with him:
Yeah it does, I relate to it a lot. I was also shot 6 times in the East so when I heard it I felt as if it was talking to me.
On how he went about writing his verse:
Well being from Downtown New Orleans its every day talk, and August not the regular r'n'b artist so we on the same kick, it’s raw, and that’s what I love. With the subject and content of the song I really didn't need a certain approach, I jus did me and said what’s real about my city, that’s how we live Downtown.
On his "Juice" reference and if the movie was influential:
Of course. There is always that group of dudes that’s tired of being broke and want to make something happen but it came from a Pac phrase he said “real niggas don't die” and I feel that.
FROM KNUCKLEHEAD & CARLOS CAHEE'S PERSPECTIVE:
On how the collaborative production on "Downtown" came about:
Knucklehead: I had a session with Carlos [Cahee], it was our first time meeting each other. Our chemistry was crazy for it to be our first time meeting. Long story short, He laid down some crazy chords and end up having to leave the session early. I kept working and when he came back the next day the track was done. During the session we talked and vibed for a bit, found out that we had went to the same college back in Houston (TSU) and knew some of the same people.
On how they worked together, who did what:
Knuck: It started with Los playing the guitar. He started the actual melody of the song. I built off of the guitar and we created the foundation. He set the tone, and I started playing to the chords he laid down and the rest is history after that!
On if they create music for all genres:
Carlos: I've played for many artists and bands from every genre, so I'd like to say I do it all. The approach just depends on the vibe of the song, concept, or idea.
Knuck: I don't like to box myself in to one sound, I feel like my sound is universal. Most say I have a "trap" sound since I’ve worked a lot of rappers like Rocko, Gucci, Cash Out and Alley Boy, but it just depends on how I'm feeling or the vibe I get from whoever I'm working with. I like to work with r'n'b based producers because together, theres no telling what we may create.
On how they got the beat to August:
Carlos: I've worked with August a few times through producer Cassius Jay and writer/producer Sean Pen. I really look up to those guys. Not only are they crazy talented but good people. I was pretty amp when I found out they had scheduled Knuck and I for a session.
Knuck: August is like my lil brother. We been knowing each other for like a year now. We met through Roscoe Dash at the studio one night and he end up letting me hear some of his music, at that very moment I was blown away. We ended up locking in and setting up a session. I'll never forget, it was my girls birthday and we went in the studio that night and that was the birth of "I Luv This Shit"… instant hit record. We could feel it. Even when we weren't in the studio he was always at the crib chillin and shit.
On what equipment they used to create "Downtown":
Carlos: Fender Stratocaster (Guitar).
Knuck: FL Studio and ProTools.
On their go-to machines:
Carlos: Of course Guitar since that's my primary instrument.
Knuck: Gotta be FL Studio, and my Roland Fantom G keyboard.
Giving you the direct perspective from August Alsina and his producers Knucklehead and Carlos Cahee, "Track Breakdown" is an HNHH series that highlights a specific cut by speaking to both the artist and producer about the song's creation.
For this week's Track Breakdown, we called upon rising singer August Alsina. August already has a deal locked in with Def Jam, through none other than r'n'b singer and hit-maker, The-Dream. With mentoring from Terius Nash, there is no doubt that August will go far with his music. The 20-year-old singer recently released his second mixtape, The Product 2, and the response has been very positive. As the rapper continues to grind and define himself with his music, we spoke to him about one song in particular off The Product 2, "Downtown," and how it represents him.
The Product 2 proved to be full of slow bangers, that are not necessarily meant to be enjoyed in a romantic setting with your girl. August reveals to us that he hates to be boxed into the "typical r'n'b" that encompasses girl-related content. Instead, the NO native takes a cue from his fellow rappers, who talk about any and everything they want too.
One such example of this on The Product 2 is August's "Downtown." "Downtown" tells a story about the every day life in New Orleans, where August grew up. August shares a true story of losing someone because of street life going-ons, making for an emotional track to match the instrumental, which was the result of collaborative work between producer Knucklehead and guitarist Carlos Cahee.
August enlisted Kidd Kidd for "Downtown," an appropriate feature given they both grew up in New Orleans. Although the two had never collaborated previously, they work well together, with Kidd Kidd's verse breaking up the song nicely. We also spoke to Kidd Kidd on his feature, and he explains how the song really touched home with him, in a similar way to August.
Finally, the two producers Knucklehead and Carlos Cahee, explain how they worked together to create the beat for August. The two worked together for the first time ever and the result was the "Downtown" beat-- not half bad at all. Their chemistry is evident, with Carlos Cahee first laying down the chords that make the basis of the track, and Knucklehead finishing it off.
Check out everything that August, Kidd Kidd, Knucklehead and Carlos had to say about "Downtown" by clicking through the images above.
If you've yet to listen to the slow-burning "Downtown," click play below.