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ExpressMilwaukee.com: Trey Songz, Last R&B Singer Standing

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  • ExpressMilwaukee.com: Trey Songz, Last R&B Singer Standing

    Check out ExpressMiluakee.com's article on Trey below! Trey headlines the Milwaukee Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. with special guest Big Sean. Click HERE to get your tickets now!

    The last half-decade has been a transitional one for contemporary R&B. One of the dominant forms of American pop music throughout the '90s and the early 2000s, the genre has since been squeezed out of pop playlists, supplanted by trendy, European-inspired dance-pop. While some of R&B's most commercially savvy singers like Usher and Chris Brown have adapted, Trojan-horsing their way onto pop radio through Euro-pop synths and club beats, Trey Songz has taken the opposite path. He's redoubled his commitment to purebred R&B, dedicating the bulk of his 2010 album Passion, Pain & Pleasure to traditional ballads and slow jams. His audience is no doubt narrower for that—even after a four-year hot streak of huge urban-radio hits, he's still only an incidental presence on Top 40 playlists—but as he sees it, he's part of a movement of R&B artists who are making the best out of the genre's diminished commercial standing.

    "I think R&B is being reignited right now," he says. "You've got Miguel, who's a new guy who came with a special sound; you've got Mary J. Blige, who's always going to be on the radio; you've got The Weeknd on the underground, which has this following that's amazing; you've got Frank Ocean and his sound and his crew; and Ne-Yo, who is still around doing great music. So I think we have an opportunity to make the R&B charts look R&B again. What we really have to take responsibility for as R&B artists is ensuring that this style of music stays alive, because it's so easy to do the pop thing. It's so tempting to try to get the biggest record you can, but that's not what R&B is about right now."

    Songz wasn't always an artist that fans would have pegged to become one of R&B's esteemed torchbearers. His first albums were largely unimaginative, and he was widely dismissed early in his career as an R. Kelly knock-off, but he's become a more daring, innovative singer as his star has risen. It was his free 2009 mixtape Anticipation that truly announced him as an artist with a unique vision. It didn't attract much notice at the time, but the mixtape's shadowy, spaced-out production was miles removed from the bright gloss of commercial R&B. It was an oddly prescient release, foreshadowing some of the more austere and off-kilter sounds that Drake and The Weeknd would later popularize.

    "I stumbled upon this mood and I just loved the way it felt, and how soulful and deep and dark it was," Songz says. "So as I finished one song, I would sit with my producers and we would mold more songs around that mood. We ended up creating this dark, moody place. When you listen to Anticipation, you just go to that place, and you're there from the time the music starts to the time that it ends. It's seamless."

    Anticipation was released as a prelude to Ready, the 2009 album that announced Songz as one of R&B's A-listers. As the singer's career took off, it seemed like the mixtape might remain a one-off fluke, but last November he followed it up with a sequel, Anticipation 2. The new mixtape expands on the warped sounds of its predecessor, while paying frequent homage to Marvin Gaye.

    Continue reading the full post...

    Comments 7
Web Crew's picture
on February 23, 2012 - 6:39pm

Check out ExpressMiluakee.com's article on Trey below! Trey headlines the Milwaukee Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. with special guest Big Sean. Click HERE to get your tickets now!

The last half-decade has been a transitional one for contemporary R&B. One of the dominant forms of American pop music throughout the '90s and the early 2000s, the genre has since been squeezed out of pop playlists, supplanted by trendy, European-inspired dance-pop. While some of R&B's most commercially savvy singers like Usher and Chris Brown have adapted, Trojan-horsing their way onto pop radio through Euro-pop synths and club beats, Trey Songz has taken the opposite path. He's redoubled his commitment to purebred R&B, dedicating the bulk of his 2010 album Passion, Pain & Pleasure to traditional ballads and slow jams. His audience is no doubt narrower for that—even after a four-year hot streak of huge urban-radio hits, he's still only an incidental presence on Top 40 playlists—but as he sees it, he's part of a movement of R&B artists who are making the best out of the genre's diminished commercial standing.

"I think R&B is being reignited right now," he says. "You've got Miguel, who's a new guy who came with a special sound; you've got Mary J. Blige, who's always going to be on the radio; you've got The Weeknd on the underground, which has this following that's amazing; you've got Frank Ocean and his sound and his crew; and Ne-Yo, who is still around doing great music. So I think we have an opportunity to make the R&B charts look R&B again. What we really have to take responsibility for as R&B artists is ensuring that this style of music stays alive, because it's so easy to do the pop thing. It's so tempting to try to get the biggest record you can, but that's not what R&B is about right now."

Songz wasn't always an artist that fans would have pegged to become one of R&B's esteemed torchbearers. His first albums were largely unimaginative, and he was widely dismissed early in his career as an R. Kelly knock-off, but he's become a more daring, innovative singer as his star has risen. It was his free 2009 mixtape Anticipation that truly announced him as an artist with a unique vision. It didn't attract much notice at the time, but the mixtape's shadowy, spaced-out production was miles removed from the bright gloss of commercial R&B. It was an oddly prescient release, foreshadowing some of the more austere and off-kilter sounds that Drake and The Weeknd would later popularize.

"I stumbled upon this mood and I just loved the way it felt, and how soulful and deep and dark it was," Songz says. "So as I finished one song, I would sit with my producers and we would mold more songs around that mood. We ended up creating this dark, moody place. When you listen to Anticipation, you just go to that place, and you're there from the time the music starts to the time that it ends. It's seamless."

Anticipation was released as a prelude to Ready, the 2009 album that announced Songz as one of R&B's A-listers. As the singer's career took off, it seemed like the mixtape might remain a one-off fluke, but last November he followed it up with a sequel, Anticipation 2. The new mixtape expands on the warped sounds of its predecessor, while paying frequent homage to Marvin Gaye.

Continue reading the full post...

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Comments

LivelyEaster's picture

Love how he speak the truth. Great article.
Choclt D's picture

Right now, Trey is in the RnB class by himself, and its unfortunate for him. Because he has absolutely no one to compete with, the music industry throws "pop artists" in the RnB category with him, and their "pop status" beats him out. Trey has been looked over for so many awards that he should clearly have won that I dont even bother to watch the award shows unless he is performing. But keep in mind, they did the same thing to Prince until "Purple Rain".Prince had so much good music before and after that, and only his true fans recognized it. I know Trey time is comeing, (even though it shouldve been 2010 and 2011). But like Prince, if Trey fans continue to support him, he too will be able to promote his own concerts at large venues and bring in 90 million dollars by himself. (Prince did it without a current record being played on the radio at the time).
Emily_LuvsTrey's picture

There's no other voice like Trey's. Like @CFLAME said, his music does take you into another realm! I went to my first Trey Songz concert a few weeks ago in Cleveland. Best-Concert-Ever. You can feel how deep he is in his music when he sings. He puts on a performance like no other. Tremaine is forever the best! Love him so much. =)
iSparks87's picture

Damn right! R&B's IV :)
CFlame's picture

The Anticipation mixtapes definitely take me into another realm! When I listen to 'You Belong To Me', I feel like I'm in a sexy time warp... Same goes for 'Find A Place'. I love true, purebred RnB..and Trey definitely gives that to me! When his vocals, background vocals, harmonies, lyrics and amazing production all blend...they create something so beautiful :-) Seeing it all Live, and feeling the real emotions and love that Trey has for his craft just blows me away! Keep up the quest!! I'm witchu boo..?
Bobbi_'s picture

I really love this article!! It speaks truth. Trey is the business.
Trey's P.Y.T.'s picture

2012 year of SONGZ! this why I love Trey he listens and cares bout what his fans want forever my FAV !!! and I will continue to STAN! #ChapterV

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