This Thing Called Life
There’s depth to August Alsina’s R&B. Informed by personal struggle—he lost his brother in a 2010 shooting, underwent surgery to stave off a serious eye condition, and fell into a coma after collapsing on stage—his second album injects some rugged, hard-earned attitude to his gorgeous croon and glossy hooks. “Job” bristles with intent and “Why I Do It” is a Lil Wayne-assisted raised middle finger, while “Hip Hop” rolls through with menace. But his soulful instincts remain undimmed. The entrancing “Dreamer” is a bittersweet paean to his adolescence and “The Encore” finishes an arresting album on a joyful, triumphant note.