For years, August Alsina kept the details of his romance with Jada Pinkett Smith a secret.
“I really am a private person,” the 27-year old R&B singer tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday. “People have never known much about my love life because it’s not important.”
But as the mounting rumours that he had had an affair with Pinkett Smith, 48, started to affect his career, Alsina felt he could no longer remain silent, especially when he became the legal guardian to his three nieces — or “daughters,” as he affectionately calls them — Chaylin, 14, Amaiya, 13, and Kayden, 11. (Their father, Alsina’s older brother Melvin, was shot to death in New Orleans in 2010; their mother Chandra died of cancer on Christmas Day in 2018.)
“I never really cared about what people thought of me, but my personal life started to seep into my business life,” he says. “There were certain falsities about me, and it affected my business relationships.”
“I could understand why it would look like I’m reckless or disrespectful so it really started to affect my livelihood, and I’m never okay with that,” he continues. “I got three kids to look after. Kill me, hate m
Alsina first met the actress in 2015, at her children Jaden and Willow’s concert in London, and they struck up a friendship. Just a year prior, Alsina had developed an addiction to painkillers after fainting and falling off the stage during one of his New York City concerts.
“He asked me that day, ‘Man, I could really use some help dealing with life,'” Pinkett Smith said on a 2018 episode of her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk. “And then [I came] to find out that he was abusing Percocet.”
As she helped Alsina heal, the friendship eventually turned romantic. After he and Pinkett Smith broke up, Alsina kept quiet about their relationship until earlier this summer, when he told radio host Angela Yee in June he “truly and really, really, deeply loved” her.
“I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life,” Alsina said. “I devoted myself to it, I gave my full self to it — so much so to the point that I can die right now and be okay with knowing that I truly gave myself to somebody.”
Alsina’s revelation led the Smiths to disclose that they had secretly gone through a temporary situation on an episode of Red Table Talk. Pinkett Smith — who denied Alsina’s claim that her husband gave his “blessing” — repeatedly called her romance with Alsina an “entanglement.” After prodding by Smith, she admitted: “It was a relationship.”
Acknowledging Alsina was never a “home-wrecker,” the Smiths spoke about reaching a new level of “unconditional love” within their marriage after the rough patch.
While Alsina says he never intended to “cause trouble” for the Smiths, whom he says he has “deep respect” for, he also has no regrets about sharing his truth.
“I’m always going to be in the driver’s seat of my life and control my narrative,” he says. “I can’t let anybody else do that for me.”
In July, Alsina released his new single “Entanglements,” an obvious wink at Pinkett Smith’s much-discussed description of their relationship.
Though the song has drawn some backlash, Alsina shrugs it off.
“It was cool when people were able to use it as a mockery of me, like, ‘Oh, you’re an entanglement,'” he says. “When I flipped it, it became a problem for people. Like, ‘Oh, you’re clout-chasing.’ I’m just doing business. It’s not personal.”
Despite the public drama, Alsina doesn’t see his relationship with the Smiths as broken.
“It’s just a part of life, and it’s a part of the journey,” he says. “There’s a lot of love there. Sometimes truth is complicated and difficult. But [my relationship with them isn’t] broken at all.”
Currently single, Alsina — who is battling the rare autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome — says he’s more focused on being as “present” as he can possibly can be for his “naughters” than dating.
“Life is still unfolding,” he says. “I’ve spent a lot of time in a relationship. It’s like the first time you’re back on your own type thing. There’s been a lot of rebuilding within myself, a lot of healing within myself that has had to happen. But I’m very okay.”