Passion, Pain & Pleasure is the fourth album from Trey Songz. Released in the summer, the album has received great critical response. No doubt what has helped in achieving this success is the appearance of Drake on the song Unusual. Trey spoke to us about working with Drake and their special friendship behind the scenes.
Here is something that will catch a radio programmer’s attention.
When Atlantic Records sent the debut single from Trey Songz to radio stations, Ahmet Ertegun, the label’s legendary founder, included a note declaring Songz as “an extraordinary talent who is gifted beyond his years” and “one of the most promising R&B artists we have had on Atlantic since the birth of soul music some 40 years ago.”
The way Trey Songz, 20, talks about his relationship with Ertegun-the man responsible for the careers of Ray Charles- one would think the two are old chums.
“When I go to Atlantic, I stop at his office just to holler at him,” Songz says.
Six months after Songz was signed to Atlantic, someone played Ertegun some material by Songz. “He immediately fell in love with the project and wanted to meet me,” Songz recalls. “We kicked it off. When he met me, we clicked.”
As if a budding relationship with one music legend isn?t enough, Songz has another: Aretha Franklin.
Troy Taylor, who produced Songz’ soon-to-be-released debut album, also works with Franklin. As they were recording in Detroit about a year ago, he played her a track by Songz.
Taylor asked her if she’d appear on a remix for Songz’ debut single, “Gotta Make It.” “She jumped on it,” Songz says. “That makes me smile so big.”
With a backing from two of music’s most renowned individuals, it’s no wonder why Songz is being touted as the future of R&B. The only wonder is how Songz manages to stay grounded when everyone around him is feeding him with promises that should give him a big head. He’s still finishing the last two songs on his debut album, “I Gotta Make It,” due out July 26, yet the hype machine’s been at work all year, especially over the past few weeks as his single hit radio.
“Back home my grandmother says, ‘stay humble and work hard like when you first got in it.’ If I could do that through the beginning of this and just maintain that, that’s what’s it about,” he says.
Trey Songz was born as Tremaine Neverson in Petersburg, Virginia. A friend of a friend introduced him to producer Taylor, who had worked with Patti Labelle, Lionel Richie and B2K.
Meeting Taylor was Songz’ big break because had it not been for Taylor, Songz says he would have never met anyone else in the music industry.
“He took me under his wings,” Songz says. “He gave me a test. He said, ‘we’re going to do a song right here.’ I had a song written the next time I saw him. I sang it all the way down and we recorded that first song. He said I had it way back then and he molded me.”
While working on his debut album for five years, he also kept busy with other projects. He wrote tracks for Kevin Lyttle and Juvenile and was featured on tracks by Gerald Levert and Trick Daddy.
He also released material under his street alias “the Prince of Virginia.” While mix tapes are dominated by rappers, Songz is one of the only singers to release them.
“That mix tape circuit, I saw how that bubble worked. I though I could do that,” he says. “It was something for me to do creatively and it built me a buzz.”
Songz explains that there is a distinct difference between all three of his personas.
“Tremaine Neverson is chilling at home with his people back in the ‘burbs. Trey Songz is the artist, the talent, the creative aspect. The Prince of Virginia is Frank Triantra. That’s the mix tape kid; the dude that will hop on your beat and give you a hook.”
But all of his hopes and dreams depend on the success of his album. Up to now, it’s just been hype. But Songz is confident, because he knows he’s done everything he could do to make the album perfect while working on it during the past five years.
“I want it to be all it can be. I don’t want to just do something to do it. I never want to do something just to do it. I want to make history, not be history.”
Watch the video for “Gotta Make It”