Originally known for his work as a critically acclaimed singer, arranger, producer, and background vocalist, Los Angeles native Ray Jacobs – referred to as AUGUST 08 – has certainly paved his own way in the industry since the debut of his first EP, Father, in 2018. After making a strong and impressive mark with this previous project, the pivotal member of Red Bull Records and the 88rising collective is back with Happy Endings with an Asterisk, a new EP that showcases the dynamic style that got us hooked to begin with. Though classified as a contemporary R&B artist, AUGUST 08 continues to blur the lines of what it means to be a "traditional" singer in the genre, implementing aspects of pop and rock that only highlight the soul that exudes from his thematic inspiration and melodies.
In Happy Endings with an Asterisk, AUGUST 08 draws on inspirations as diverse as Cocaine 80s, Phil Collins, Snoop Dogg, and Claude Von Stroke which allow him to develop a distinct style that paints a singular musical backdrop with raw and relatable storytelling at its core – ultimately leading you to form a deeper connection with AUGUST 08 and his personal experiences. He shared,
"It's my truth. It's not negative to say, 'I'm not always happy.' I'm being honest. If you're always searching for something, you remain in a constant state of progression. All of these songs have a message of duality."
Though surrounded by a seemingly simple, rhythmic drum beat and harmony, AUGUST 08 delves into this project with "Spiral," a track that addresses issues of drug addiction and depression. With contributing vocals from Wynne, he begins this EP by introducing us to one of the most intimate parts of his life. On the lead track "Good Girls," he teams up with longtime collaborator Duckwrth to convey a story of complicated love. Pairing swooning vocals from AUGUST 08 and a fiery verse from Duckwrth, listeners are fully immersed in the good girl/bad boy saga.
Two prior singles, "Simple Pleasures" featuring Goldlink and "Blood on My Hands" featuring Smino are added to the EP as fan favorites – and where AUGUST 08's fluidity in the genre is showcased. On "Simple Pleasures," Goldlink's smooth flow is matched with deep drum loops and a style of production that has an intoxicating mix of electronic and funk elements. Similarly, "Blood on My Hands" layers higher pitched vocals from AUGUST over down tempo beats that complement Smino's addition to the track. Lastly, he rounds out the EP with "Civilized" and "Swim" which are a continuation in lyricism that showcase the renegade spirit and anti-culture approach to AUGUST 08's artistry.
Happy Endings with an Asterisk is just a representation of AUGUST 08's authenticity as an artist. Although he likes to say that he's just "a street dude who writes pop songs,“ he’s giving his listeners a vivid and honest portrayal of his life. And not only has this caused him to win over the hearts and loyalty from fans all over the world, he's become someone that has lived to create music that is sonically experimental and continues to shift the culture of the industry and its audience.
If you haven't heard of AUGUST 08 before, now is the perfect time to be introduced. The Happy Endings with an Asterisk EP is out now and available on streaming services globally:
+ Catch AUGUST 08 at 88rising's Head in the Clouds Festival on Aug. 17 at the LA State Historic Park: