Artist Spotlight: Trey Songz
Since emerging in 2005 with I Gotta Make It, Trey Songz has evolved into one of R&B's most consistent artists. He's never quite turned into a full-fledged pop star, despite the occasional crossover hit like "I Invented Sex," "Bottoms Up" and, most recently, "Na Na." Better yet, he's never changed his sound to court the mainstream. Instead, he has focused solely on his core fans and their seemingly bottomless thirst for bedroom music.
Yes, Trey Songz is a contemporary R&B singer, and he's saddled by the baggage that often entails: the persistent critiques that his albums are formulaic and sex-driven (even though "indie" folks don't mind ripping off those so-called tropes for their "alt R&B" adventures), and that he sounds just like Chris Brown/Usher/R. Kelly/et cetera. Still, he's responsible for some of the best R&B of recent vintage. Packed with singles like "Say Aah," "Successful" and "Neighbors Know My Name," his 2009 breakthrough, Ready, is a minor classic. His catalog is packed with standout moments, whether it's "Can't Help But Wait" or his guest work on Lupe Fiasco's "Out of My Head." He's proof that the urban pop industry can make great records that are both aesthetically and commercially satisfying (though, due to his risqué lyrics, it's unlikely that "poptimist" critics will champion him).
Trey Songz's Trigga drops this week, and it includes a suite of love songs as accomplished as any he's released. While it will certainly debut high on the charts, it's unclear if this will be the album that finally makes him more than just a BET and MTV Jams stalwart. For those of us who've enjoyed his music during the past nine years, it hardly matters.