Alsina was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He attended middle school in New Orleans. Although no one in his family was musically inclined, he was inspired to sing by Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2. Alsina first uploaded videos to YouTube in 2007 at age 14, starting with a cover of “Hypothetically” by Lyfe Jennings. After his older brother, Melvin La’Branch III, was shot and killed on August 31, 2010, he became more committed to his music, and relocated to Atlanta in 2011.
He went from a little known talent posting covers on YouTube to a rising R&B star sharing studio sessions with The-Dream. In April 2012, August Alsina debuted his freshmen mixtape, The Product, with the help of Hoodrich/MMG’s DJ Scream. A year later, he teamed up with DJ Drama for the second installment of his mixtape series, paving the way for the buzzworthy single “I Luv This S–t,” which features Trinidad James.
The EP Downtown: Life Under the Gun was released on August 20, 2013, with a video for “Hell on Earth” released the following month. On December 9, 2013, the third single from his EP Downtown: Life Under the Gun, “Ghetto” featuring Rich Homie Quan, was serviced to urban contemporary radio and it was the most added song on urban radio the week ending December 12, 2013. On January 14, 2014, Alsina released “Make It Home” featuring Jeezy, as the lead single from his debut studio album. Along with the release, it was revealed that the album would be titled Testimony, which was released on April 15, 2014. Signed to The-Dream’s Radio Killa/Def Jam imprint, the young crooner’s debut LP, Testimony, dropped in April 2014. He was also named part of the 2014 XXL freshmen class.