AUGUST 08 represents a growing community of artists who are not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. The multi-talented singer-songwriter made his intentions clear from the first day he arrived on the scene. “It is an incredible feeling to perform and get in front of crowds that didn’t know me,” AUGUST shared in an interview with Red Bull back in 2018, “but what really struck me was that they were open to a new experience.”
The South Los Angeles native had already put five years in behind the scenes before landing a dope AF writing credit on a Billboard No. 1 song. “I’m the One,” a star-packed, chart-topping jam by DJ Khaled (and featured Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo of The Migos, and Lil Wayne) became the door-opening measure of success he needed to get his name out there. An early signee of 88rising, the L.A.-based music, media, management, and meme-manufacturing company, AUGUST used his internet virality to focus his musical efforts on making personal music that peeled back a vulnerability that resonates with audiophiles around the world.
His latest project, Emotional Cuh, along with its complimentary short film, highlights the vibes AUGUST 08 is willing to share to break the stereotypes that face those who are “soft, not rough” and are forced to do things they want to do. “Every hood has an emotional cuh, an emotional thug, and this [music] is for them. I hope this music encourages them to express themselves freely. This personal chapter of AUGUST 08’s life series, so far, has been an unflinching and unapologetically nuanced way to experience youthful innocence in sound.
This week’s edition of The Playlist is excited to have the K-Town legend-in-the-making as a co-curator. Together, we put our thinking caps on to share choice songs to play when you need a much-needed soundtrack to release your feelings to. Enjoy!
1. Channel Tres — “Skate Depot”
The first pick from AUGUST 08 is a personal one (and a favorite of mine). “Channel [Tres] and I have been friends since we were kids,” the loving lothario shares with me via email. “We grew up in the same hood and have been able to see each other’s growth as artists.” “Skate Depot,” from his quarantine-billed I Can’t Go Outside project, is a hip-hop-inflected house track slash ode to the skating rink in Cerritos, CA, where Channel had his first job but was fired due to his poor skating skills. “Channel has a sound that’s eclectic and original. This track is a reflection of that.”
2. India Shawn — “Too Sweet” (ft. Unknown Mortal Orchestra)
A fan-favorite here at The Playlist, India Shawn returns with a follow-up to her Anderson .Paak-featured single, “Movin’ On,” with a downtempo dreamscape called “Too Sweet”. A champion of self-love and determination, India’s dynamic new single is packed with an alt-vibe that a weirdo like myself greatly appreciates. Add musicians D Mile and Unknown Mortal Orchestra to this head-nod-inducing track and it makes a soulful addition to anyone’s rotation.
3. Barney Bones — “Should’ve Stayed Down”
Fellow 88rising member and “long-time homie,” Barney Bones, is one of the most refreshingly unique artists to enter the music scene in the past five years. Amazing hundreds of thousands of streams on multiple platforms aside, “Should’ve Stayed Down” proves that this artist is destined for great things. “Barney has a crazy flow and even crazier lyrical abilities,” AUGUST shares about his L.A. compatriot. After listening to this track, one should follow AUGUST’s advice: “Don’t sleep on him. You’ll see what I mean when you dive into his other works.”
4. Ant Clemons — “June 1st”
Ant Clemons is an ultra-talented singer-songwriter who is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Happy 2 Be Here, his 2020 debut project. Nominated for a “Best R&B Album” Grammy, the New Jersey-bred, L.A.-based artist shares his journey in the form of “June 1st,” a bonus number that appears on the deluxe version of Happy. For anyone who has or is in pursuit of their dreams, “June 1st” means a lot to this young scribe who wishes to see his name listed as “creator” and “executive producer” behind new works of film and TV art.
5. AUGUST 08 — “Hobosexual”
The noted producer and songwriter selects his own track for ESSENCE’s The Playlist, and rightfully so. “Hobosexual,” a song from Emotional Cuh and is defined as “a person who gets into relationships to avoid being homeless,” is quite a revealing track from AUGUST 08. “The song is pretty self explanatory and is a story about dating women to be able to sleep on their couches when you don’t have a crib and you’re couch-surfing to avoid homelessness in L.A.” It is a pretty revealing number and if—like yours truly—you find yourself out here on a limb, you should play this to keep your sanity stable and hustle motivated.
6. Tank — “Can’t Let It Show”
Uncle Tank is back in his bag for 2021—and I am all here for it. The singer-songwriter who made knees buckle and hearts swoon with hits such as “One Man” and “Maybe I Deserve,” falls back into his bag on “Can’t Let It Show”. Written and produced by Tank, the song samples Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” and showcases an intense vulnerability that has endeared him to audiences for over a decade. If you’re in a mood and could use some romantic appeal in your life, then Tank’s signature style is right up your alley.
7. Baby Keem — “Honest”
Anointed as the “Next Very Big Rapper,” Baby Keem has had hype following him ever since his cloaked-in-mystery debut. You’ve heard him on the Black Panther soundtrack, Jay Rock’s Redemption, and ScHoolboy Q’s CrasH Talk, but “Honest” is an emotional anthem that slaps. “Keem has a real special kind of cadence to his flow,” AUGUST confesses about the standout youngin’ in a sea full of Babies (Lil Baby, DaBaby, etc.). “He understands how to make good music at such a young age. I f**k with this track heavy.”
8. CL — “Wish You Were Here”
A vibe that is inescapable for us all is grief, a forever-reminder that love is the only thing we are here to share. K-pop recording artist, CL, is a globally recognized icon for her work and artistry. On “Wish You Were Here,” she pays tribute to her late mother, who tragically passed away, and acknowledges the gift of life she received from such a powerful woman. With moments filmed largely in part by her mom that take us into CL’s early years, “Wish You Were Here” is a powerful vibe that weaves us in and out of dealing with grief.
9. Childish Gambino — “39.28”
“This song is a beautiful piece of art,” AUGUST immediately says via email to me. “I love this track because it really makes you feel everything.” Back when the award-winning creative was called Childish Gambino, 3.15.20 was a sincerely cathartic offering from an artist who defies definition and peels back layers to reveal an amazing soundscape for listeners in need. “The vocal production and layering [on “39.28” is crazy]. It gives [me] Queen vibes [and] Gambino went the f**k off with this one.”
10. Sheléa — “Grace”
Sheléa, an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and actress, delivers an evocative vibe on her latest single, entitled “Grace”. Backed by a soft piano, the Quincy Jones-cosigned talent brings us wholly into her world before allowing her voice to take flight and carry us into a resounding crescendo. “Can I get a little grace?” she asks alongside a gospel choir, and the answer is yes. This track is a compassionate and unifying message, much needed in a divisive time where allegiances seem fleeting. Thank you, Sheléa, for making a number that is full of empathy and emotion.