"I want to be as present as I possibly can within their life while still being able to show them what it looks like to have a career."
August Alsina is reflecting on his role as a legal guardian to his three "naughters."
In an interview with PEOPLE, the R&B singer opened up about his decision to take in his nieces Chaylin, 14, Amaiya, 13, and Kayden, 11, following the tragic deaths of their parents; Alsina's late brother, Melvin, who was shot in New Orleans in 2010, had been engaged to Chandra, who passed away from cancer on Christmas Day 2018.
"They are beautiful kids with beautiful energy," Alsina said of his nieces. "I'm excited to see life unfold for them, and I want to be as present as I possibly can within their life while still being able to show them what it looks like to have a career."
"It was to the point of delusion," he added. "I was just like, 'No way, ain't no way that's going to happen.' I remember my sister [Chandra] asking me, 'Would you take custody?' I'm like, 'Of course I will. But there's no way you're going to die.'"
Alsina recalled the text Chandra sent him before she died. "She texted me, 'All this time you've been running from being a parent, from having kids, and now you're forced to.'"
"I'm like, 'I just play the cards that life deals me, and I'll figure everything out,'" the singer said he wrote in reply. "She said, 'You always do.' And she went to sleep and that was that."
After Chandra passed -- and with Melvin having died years prior -- Alsina stepped in as legal guardian to his nieces, who he calls his "naughters." The 27-year-old said he tries "to put away as much of [his] childish behavior as [he] can" for the girls.
"I'm striving to be an example for my 'naughters,'" Alsina explained. "And I want them to know and trust that they're going to be alright here with or without me, or without any man, without any woman, without any parent."
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"I named the project 'State of EMERGEncy' way before the whole world was in a state of emergency," he explained. "I was in my own state of emergency. The project is about how pain can be a gift to us if we allow it to be. One thing that will forever be inevitable in this life is pain. It's just about how you deal with it."
The "No Love" singer went on to speak about the struggles of balancing parenthood and his career, while also suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves.
"It's a lot," Alsina admitted, adding, "But I really do try to see the best in every situation and learn the lesson from every test. I would definitely be lying to you if I told you, 'Oh, this is how I deal with it.' I'm still in the process of uprooting my life and letting go of old situations."
A couple of weeks after "State of EMERGEncy" was released, Alsina made headlines when Jada Pinkett Smithrevealed she had an "entanglement" with him. During an episode of "Red Table Talk," Jada confirmed she and Alsina had a relationship while she and husband Will Smith were on a break and near the brink of divorce.
In the wake of the explosive episode, the word "entanglement" went viral as Jada repeatedly used it to define what went on between her and Alsina, as Will pushed for her to be more specific. Less than two weeks later, Alsina dropped a song titled, "Entanglements."
"The definition of entanglement / It's when you're tangled in the sheets," Alsina can be heard singing on the track. "Girl I know that we don't call it a relationship/ But you're still f---in' with me."
"You left your man to f--- with me, just to pay him back," he said at another point. "Don't you know that's cold-hearted?"