Biography: Trey Songz
Trey Songz was born Tremaine Aldon Neverson on November 28, 1984, in Petersburg, Virginia. As a child, there were no rigorous voice or piano lessons. In fact, all through high school, Trey was doing what most kids his age were doing: playing basketball, throwing parties, and getting dragged to church by his devout grandmother, who sang in a gospel choir. "I wasn't even paying attention to R&B at the time", says Trey. "I was listening to straight rap, like Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas." The only R&B artist who caught his attention was R. Kelly, whose work Trey reveres. "When it comes to R&B, he kills it. He gives you every part of the soul he can think of, from the gangsta to the gentleman," says Trey, whose elastic tenor conjures a younger, fresher Kelly.
At the behest of his mother and friends, Trey entered, and won, a total of 20 local talent shows. He was rapidly building a name for himself. But the real epiphany didn't occur until the age of 15, when Trey met his producer and mentor, Troy Taylor – a veteran whose resume includes everybody from Patti Labelle to SWV, Lionel Richie to B2K. Impressed by an acappella version of "All The Things I Do," a song Trey himself had written, Taylor urged him to get serious.
Upon finishing high school, Trey moved to New Jersey to focus solely on music. Taylor, in turn, focused on teaching his protégé music history. "We would go to the New York studio every day, and during the drive, he'd play me all sorts of stuff, like Steely Dan," recalls Trey. "When it came time to learn about falsetto, he'd play me Prince. When it came time to learn about soul, he'd play me Motown." Trey eventually became Taylor's vocal production assistant. Working with other artists in the studio gave Trey invaluable technical experience, and prepared the young singer for his bright, not-too-distant future.
Trey's rapidly burgeoning talent led to his inking with Atlantic Records, whose rich R&B history made it the ideal home for his unique blend of the classic and the contemporary. "I believe that Trey Songz is among the most promising R&B artists we have had on Atlantic since we started the company nearly sixty years ago," said Atlantic Founding Chairman Ahmet Ertegun. "It has been our privilege to record such legendary performers as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding, and I believe that Trey is poised to be the heir of our great R&B legacy. He has the voice, the songs, the intelligence, the soul, and the charisma of a true star."
While working on his debut album, Trey has also become much in-demand to work on outside projects. He has written and co-produced for Kevin Lyttle's self-titled debut, sings solo on "About The Game" from Coach Carter: Music From The Motion Picture, is featured on "Ain't A Thug" on Trick Daddy's album, Thug Matrimony and sings back-up on Gerald Levert's "What Happened To The Lovin'" on his latest collection. Trey co-wrote and guests on a pair of tracks slated for Juvenile's upcoming album.
At the same time, Trey's alter ego, the "Prince of Virginia," maintained his street cred by aggressively attacking the mixtape circuit. This route, normally used by rap artists, has made this R&B singer/songwriter a standout amongst his peers. By churning out mixtape buzzers like "You Can Get It" featuring T.I, "Dreams Freestyle," and "Ghetto People" – his own spin on The Game's "Dreams" and R. Kelly's "Happy People" – he had the streets begging for more. "There's so much on my mind that I can't say on a regular R&B record", confesses Trey. "So mixtapes are a great outlet to sing about some wild, crazy, stuff."
I Gotta Make It
His debut album, I Gotta Make It was released on July 26, 2005. It debuted at #20 on the Billboard 200, selling a mere 40,000 copies in its first week of sales. It has only sold 300,000 records in the US, and was never certified by the RIAA. Song'z debut single, Gotta Make It, featuring Twista, was released in March of 2005 and reached #87 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #21 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. It garnered some success in the R&B/urban community but failed to make a mark in mainstream music. The album's second and final single, Gotta Go, was released in July of 2005 and reached #67 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, becoming even more successful than his debut single in the R&B/urban community and in the mainstream community. After promotion for his debut concluded, he was featured on the lead single from Twista's fifth album, The Day After. The single, "Girl Tonite", reached #14 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, becoming a huge hit.
In mid-2006, Songz began work on a follow-up album to his debut with longtime collaborator Troy Taylor and also employed hitmakers Bryan-Michael Cox, Danja, Stargate (production team) and R. Kelly to help create the album. Trey aimed for the album to be more mainstream-oriented than his debut album.
His second studio album, Trey Day, was released on October 2, 2007. The album reached #11 on the Billboard 200, selling 73,000 copies in its first week. It has since sold 400,000 records in the US, becoming his second album not to be certified by the RIAA.
His sophomore album was preceded by the lead single, "Wonder Woman", which was released in February of 2007. It reached #54 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but failed to impact the Hot 100. Because of the single's failure, his second album was delayed from May 2007 to October 2007. The album's second single, "Can't Help but Wait", was released in August of 2007 and was released to promote his second album and the film Step Up 2 the Streets' soundtrack as a single for it. The single reached #14 on the Hot 100, and #2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It became Songz's first Top 20 hit on the Hot 100, and helped to boost his second album's sales. The single was also nominated for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 2008 50th Grammy Awards.
The third single from the album, "Last Time", was released in January of 2008 and reached #69 on the Hot 100, and #9 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The fourth and final single from the album, "Missin' You", was released in May of 2008, but failed to chart completely. In mid-2008, Songz was nominated for a BET Award for Best Male R&B Artist but didn't win the award.
In late 2008, Trey began work on his third studio album with Bryan-Michael Cox, Sean Garrett, Stargate and Troy Taylor and aimed for the record to be more mature than his first two. Before releasing his third album, Songz released a mixtape titled Anticipation in June of 2009 through his blog, which featured songs from his third album. Another mixtape from Trey was released in the summer of 2009, called Genesis. Genesis was a collection of Trey Songz's first recordings when he was fifteen years old and was released to show his fans the dedication that he had to make a record when he was young.
Trey released his third studio album, Ready, on August 31, 2009. The album reached #3 on the Billboard 200, selling 131,000 copies in its first week. These are his best first week sales to date and the album was his first to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. The album has since sold 700,000 records in the US, earning a Gold certification from the RIAA in February of 2010, becoming his first album to be certified by the RIAA.
The lead single from the album, "I Need a Girl", was released in April of 2009 and reached #5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart and #59 on the Hot 100, becoming an R&B/urban hit but not a mainstream hit. A promotional single, "Successful", featuring rapper Drake, was released in June of 2009 and reached #17 on the Hot 100, becoming Songz's third Top 20 hit. The single also served as the second and final single from Drake's EP, So Far Gone.
The second official single from his third album, "LOL Smiley Face", featuring Soulja Boy Tell 'Em and Gucci Mane, was released in August of 2009 and reached #51 on the Hot 100 and #12 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The third single from the album, "I Invented Sex", featuring Drake, was released in October of 2009 and reached #42 on the Hot 100 but #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, becoming his first single to top that chart. The fourth single from the album, "Say Aah", featuring rapper Fabolous, was released in January of 2010 and reached #9 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The single has become Trey's highest charting single on the Hot 100 and one of his most successful singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The fifth and final single from the album, "Neighbors Know My Name", was released in February of 2010 and reached #43 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. A sixth single, "Yo Side of the Bed", was going to be released in June of 2010, but its release was canceled due to unknown reasons. A music video, featuring singer Keri Hilson, was filmed and released, however.
Songz was also the opening act for Jay-Z on his Jay-Z Fall Tour in late 2009.
The album 'Ready' was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010, but lost to Beyoncé's I Am...Sasha Fierce.
Passion, Pain & Pleasure
"Passion, Pain & Pleasure" is Songz' hugely anticipated follow-up to 2009's RIAA gold-certified smash, "Ready." From the bouncy first single, "Bottoms Up (Feat. Nicki Minaj)" to the driving, rock-infused "Blind," the new album sees the Virginia-based R&B superstar energized and evolving as he continues to refine his mastery of of sultry, soulful songcraft.
"This album is a step closer to me recording without inhibitions," says Songz. "It embodies the best parts of 'Ready' with the heart of 'Anticipation' and the originality of 'I gotta make it.'"
Songz enlisted a company of gifted producers to accompany him on his artistic journey, including Bei Maejor, Tha Bizness, Mario Winans, Mark Jackson, Kane Beatz and, of course, his longtime production partner, Songbook Entertainment founder Troy Taylor. As ever, Trey displays effortless vocal dexterity while simultaneously relaying complex emotional depth and power. The throbbing, minimalist "Can't Be Friends" and the classic R&B romance of "Please Return My Call" reveal reflective and introspective themes of love and human relations, stressing the sensual above the overtly sexual.
"This is the album where I talk to the people who think all I can sing about is sex," says Songz. "I take a step further out of that realm, although I do keep one foot in."
"While the words Passion, Pain and Pleasure immediately invoke sexual thoughts, for me they have become somewhat of a personal mantra because they so accurately describe this time in my life," says Trey Songz. "The passion I have for my art fuels my drive and work ethic, while the sacrifice of my personal life to benefit my career will always be a source of pain. The pleasure that I derive from my work and my accomplishments make everything worth it. When I began conceptualizing the new album, these three words stuck in my head. They completely infiltrated my creative process, so it was inevitable that they became the album title."
"Passion, Pain & Pleasure" marks Songz' first new release since making the transition from rapidly rising young artist to bonafide R&B superstar.
Trey Songz won for "Best Male R&B Artist" at the 2010 BET Awards. That triumph capped an extraordinary year that included touring as both headliner and special guest on Jay-Z's massive "BP3 Tour 2010," numerous TV appearances, and star-studded recording sessions like Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones' new version of "We Are The World," benefiting Haitian earthquake relief organizations. All that and more was documented in Trey's hugely popular docu-series, My Moment. An unqualified ratings sensation, the 10-part BET documentary provided an exclusive window into Songz' life and career, chronicling everything up to and including the making of the new album.
"I've had three albums before this, but only one was really a hit," says Trey. "This album will show that I'm not going anywhere."