For better or worse some artists will forever be linked with a certain song. For me, Trey Songz had that moment with his debut single Gotta Make It. Songz, a slim Virginia singer with a voice as smooth as cake frosting, seemed to be the perfect marriage of hip-hop and soul. He had hip-hop’s steel cut determination to make it out of poverty, but was going to do it following his heart and he poured all of that into four minutes of musical heaven. Damn I was feeling that song. Two years ago Songz was …
DJBooth Album Review
Two years ago Songz was trying to make it, right now he’s got it made. Trey Day, his long-awaited and often delayed sophomore release, has finally hit the shelves. Fans eager for more 60’s R&B-laced tales of struggle and relationships may want to slow their mad dash to the stores, Trey Day makes a decided push for radio play, but those hungry for between the sheets freakiness and dance-ready jams will be more than pleased.
The contrast between the two album’s intros says it all: on Gotta Make It the queen of soul Aretha Franklin gives her legendary endorsement. By contrast Trey Day opens with some backing from southern fried pimp Bun B. Even Stevie Wonder could see Songz is making a not-so-subtle move towards hip-hop.
Trey Day's bold intro slides easily into Long Gone Missin', a track that uses strong violin lines and heavy percussion to set the stage for Songz’s venture into the world of rhyme. I’m not going to say he should never rap again, I’m just saying if he didn’t I wouldn’t be upset. Long Gone Missin’ shows Songz has fully adopted the diamond studded swagger of mainstream R&B with mixed results. It’s definitely club worthy, but lyrics like, “I’m up in this club with all these women,” could belong to anyone. The Runners’ produced joint No Clothes On might as well feature this intro; “Hi, my name is Trey Songz and I wish I was Usher.” Needless to say he simply can’t pull off the suave confidence of Mr. Raymond IV. The hip-hop infused formula finally works to perfection on Wonder Woman. Danja (I’m officially dropping the “Timbaland protégé” tag) has crafted a strangely captivating beat full of looped and reversed instrumentals so unique Songz is forced to find his own voice instead of relying on the vocal blueprints of Usher, Omarion, etc. If every song were Wonder Woman Songz would be a household name.
Songz transitions to the R&B side of the fence on Fly Together, an up–tempo track that balances soft harmonies with riding percussion. Songz’s nearly falsetto voice grabs hold of your eardrum, if only he was singing something a little deeper than “I’m so/you so/we so fly.” A track this enjoyably shallow begs for a Jim Jones feature, and sure enough he puts in a forgettable gravel-voiced verse. Stargate brings their Norwegian production to Missin’ You, a great song that’s completely ruined by the computer-style chorus. Whoever sat in the studio and said, “you know what this song needs? A chorus that sounds like it was sung by the robot from Lost In Space,” should be ashamed. R. Kelly would never make that kind of mistake and he proves it on Grub On, his production/lyrical contribution to Trey Day. Songz adopts the Pied Piper’s vocal style to the point where it sounds like a high-quality karaoke performance. Only one man could pull off comparing having sex with a woman to eating the rutti-tutti-fresh-and-fruity at IHOP, his name is not Trey Songz.
I’m rereading this review and realizing I sound like I’m hating on Trey Songz. Sorry, let me backtrack. Trey Day is a perfectly enjoyable R&B/hip-hop album, tracks like Can’t Help But Wait deserve mass attention, it’s just not the album I was hoping for. It appears Songz has lost a piece of his own voice in the move towards mainstream success. For me he hits his peak on tracks like the seductive Last Time or the classic slow jam We Should Be, songs that show he hasn’t abandoned his soul roots entirely, they’ve just become obscured by radio-friendly production. When he sang “all I got is a dollar and a dream “ on Gotta Make It I could relate, not so much on Wonder Woman’s “the seats is seashell the whip is sea blue.” Go get that money Trey, just don’t forget about the people who backed you from day one.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 10/3/07
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Pain In My Life ft. Trey Songz" (2006)
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