Why Trey Songz Should Be a Celebrated Figure in R&B Music (Part 1)

As a person who is a lover + supporter of R&B music, Trey Songz is someone who I feel just doesn’t get enough credit for the contributions he’s made to R&B music. We all know he’s an amazingly beautiful man, and I believe that that specific part of his image overshadows his talent sometimes. However, this man has some BOPS and there are so many layers to his music! Am I the only that feels this way?

When Trey Songz first hit the music scene in 2004 with “Gotta Make It”, I remember thinking to myself “this guy is special!”. They played the record like crazy on VA radio (Virginia is my second home and Trey is from there as well – Petersburg to be exact), the beat was dope and he was singing about a topic that we all could relate to.

Just. Gotta. Make. It.

Trey Songz debut album, “I Gotta Make It” (2005)

So simple yet for some reason this record didn’t become the big debut that I believe he and his team were hoping for. “Gotta Make It” (produced by Trey’s mentor and executive producer, Troy Taylor) only hit to number 87 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and peaked at number 21 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. His debut album I Gotta Make It (Listen) peaked at number 11 on the Billboard charts and to date, hasn’t even gone Gold. This man had Aretha Franklin on the intro of his album and even that wasn’t enough to push the project at the time.

Regardless of the album’s lack of performance, I Gotta Make It was a solid introduction from a budding artist that showcased Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson’s vocal ability and star appeal over classic R&B sounds. Songs like “Just Wanna Cut”, “Make Love Tonight”, and “Cheat On You” are all great R&B records that, though tamed in comparison to what we know of today, foreshadow to what Trey Songz will become.

It wasn’t until his second album, Trey Day that the superstar sex symbol that is Trey Songz began to emerge.

The super slim, rough around the edges, extra-large wife-beater wearing (seriously ya’ll, the first time I saw Trey Songz perform in Virginia he was wearing a wife-beater that looked like it was 3 sizes too big for him lol) playboy from Petersburg, Virginia returned in 2007 and this time, he had finally made it. “Wonder Woman” (produced by another Virginia talent, Danja Handz) served as the lead single for Trey’s sophomore effort and like his first single for I Gotta Make It, it failed to have chart success. It peaked at number 54 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop singles chart and after that it was pretty much forgotten about. However, his second single “Can’t Help But Wait” did much better commercially, earning Trey his first Top 20 single and a Grammy nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

There is one noticeable difference between I Gotta Make It and Trey Day that reflect a shift in R&B music as whole and marks Trey as an early-adapter and a pioneer of the trend (that he again…does not get credit for) and that’s the inclusion of hip-hop.

On I Gotta Make It, Twista and T.I were the only hip-hop features on the album. This go round, Yung Joc, Jim Jones, Bun B. and even a verse from Trigga himself make an appearance.

Trey Songz – Trey Day (2007)

Even though Trey Day dabbles with a little bit of hip hop’s sound, it’s still very much an R&B album at its core. Trey recruited some of the best producers and songwriters from the genre (R.Kelly, Bryan Michael-Cox, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis just to name a few) and created a body of work that captured the evolution of not only Trey as an artist, but R&B music. Stand out tracks like “Last Time” (which just may be my favorite Trey Songz record, ever!), “We Should Be”, and “Missing You” made Trey Day (Listen) immune to the “sophomore slump” that many artists are subjected to in the early beginnings of their career.

With success also comes criticism and the Trey Day era is around the time that those R. Kelly comparisons started to surface and that’s when Trey’s career started to become interesting…

If you enjoyed Part 1, share this on your social media, subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram so that you don’t miss Part 2! Check back on my blog for Part 2 of this profile where I will talk more about Trey’s drama with R. Kelly, this third album Ready, and his impact in R&B music. 


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