August Alsina, the 21-year-old New Orleans-bred hip-hop singer currently inked with Def Jam, has caused a social media stir by posting an image of himself hanging from a noose. The photo, which has now been removed, shows an apparently lifeless Alsina dangling, noose around his neck, head tilted to the side, with his eyes open, staring emptily. He is dressed in all black — a well-fitted black suit, shiny black shirt, black tie, and black dress shoes — offset only by a glistening, (fake) diamond-studded gold watch and his golden brown skin. The caption reads: “Rest in Peace Aug. Forever missed #holdyoudownforlife.” (The body turned out to be a dummy version of himself that he'd used while filming a music video.)
The image unsettled numerous fans who took to Twitter and other mediums to voice their horror. Some deemed Alsina’s post a sign of disrespect to victims of lynchings and their families. Others considered it a mockery of those who have committed suicide, a tasteless joke masquerading as artistic representation.
Alsina has rather quickly climbed the ladder of the music industry. He was recently named to XXL's 2014 "Freshman Class," which highlights the genre's notable up-and-comers. As a singer on a list full of rap artists, Alsina said he was honored to make art about "my life, where I come from and what’s in my heart," adding, "You can either take that or leave it."
Last year, he teamed with label mate Trinidad James on his radio-friendly debut single, "I Love It," a song that depicts the artist's rebellious attitude, examining the pitfalls and triumphs of living life under his own terms. The track, produced by Knucklehead, is celebratory of reckless living, but plagued with guilt, self-doubt and sensitivity. Those familiar with his art can see a reoccurring theme: Alsina constantly juxtaposes carelessness and self-awareness. As he puts it on the song: "I'm way too drunk to be talking like this, I'm way too high to be trippin like this, I'm way too young to be livin like this, ask me why I do it I'ma put it like this... God damn it, I luv it."
It's hard to imagine what kind of statement Alsina thought he was making with this disturbing photo:
(H/T: XXL Mag)