Clique x Trey Songz
Two weeks ago we met Trey Songz, in Paris for his concert with Nicki Minaj at the Zénith. Often called “the world’s most sexy singer”, 2015 is his year. After his album Trigga pushed its way to the top position on the charts from the first week of its release last June, he is now on a world tour.
Between anecdotes about his childhood, R.Kelly and Stevie Wonder, Trey Songz talks to us about business strategy, the latent racism of the music industry, the difficulties artists come into today – even someone of his stature – to make it in the music business in the US.
“I didn’t realize I was poor”.
As a child, Trey Songz was brought up by his mother in a modest home. “In Petersberg Virginia, we didn’t have much”, he tells us. He is currently involved in a cultural program in his hometown, helping out single mothers.
“I learnt how to make music like people do business”.
His last album promoted him to the level of international star. But before this, Trey Songz had put out five albums, receiving much less attention. “I’m at a stage in my career where I’ve taken the bull by the horns”, he tells us. The absence of instantaneous success was beneficial he says, allowing him to better appreciate his success.
“Today in music, your music is given a label, a genre according to the color of your skin”.
For Trey Songz, American society is in a phase of transition at a time where the population identifies with stars such as Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Jay-Z but where cases of police brutality against black Americans are frequent. In the music industry, things are the same: “the frontiers are blurred”, he says, but divisions remain, most often defined by skin color: when “Miley Cyrus, Adele or Ed Sheeran make r’n’b, it’s considered pop”. His own albums are systematically classified in the category, “urban adult contemporary”.
My most successful albums are the disposable ones.
During a digression in the discussion about the audacious screenplay of the series Empire, Trey Songz speaks of the release of his two biggest hits, I Invented Sex and Say Aaah; the release dates of both songs were pushed back until they were leaked. He talks to us about his relationship with R.Kelly and about the difficulty today to reconcile “hit making” and musical innovation.
“I congratulate people like Kendrick and J. Cole who go against what people expect from them. Today it is even more scary to be audacious because everything is so superficial”.
We also learn that while the two were on stage, Stevie Wonder gently put the author of I invented sex back in his place:
The first words that Stevie Wonder said to me were: “I invented sex, I’ve got 10 kids.”
Before adding, “I’m trying to put together a basketball team”.