A Strong Suggestion: Trey, Please Stop Singing About Bitches

Features

It may not seem like it, but Trey Songz has been around for almost a decade now. Of course, you’d have to remember a time when Trey had braids and managed to get Aretha Franklin and Juvenile on the same track. One assumes most cannot, as evidenced by Trey’s initial sales figures, though the singer who used to drop mixtapes under the name “Prince of Virginia” did manage to cement his status as a bona fide star with his third album, Ready. The 2009 release spawned the top-10 Hot 100 hit, “Say Ahh,” and R&B/hip-hop radio chart toppers “I Invented Sex” and “Neighbors Know My Name.”

With Trey’s new fade, bigger frame and sexual bravado set to full speed, Ready sold nearly a million copies domestically and positioned Trey as essentially the heir to R. Kelly’s (urine-soiled?) throne.

Yet, while Trey’s follow up album, Passion, Pain & Pleasure, went on to outsell Ready and produce another Billboard hit in “Bottoms Up” featuring Nicki Minaj, it was not the fan favorite that Ready was. For good reason: It wasn’t especially enjoyable. It was too long, poorly edited and a bit all over the place. Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson did not make all of those short-ass albums for you contemporary crooners to give us these No Limit-era R&B albums.

The same goes for 2012’s Chapter V, which sold nearly as low as Trey’s first two albums. As interesting as Trey’s thought process on club-going sounded to him at the time, I’m not entirely sure that’s the kind of song an R&B singer ought to be singing.

That’s essentially been one of Trey’s biggest problems: a lack of focus in terms of sound and identity.

Trey Songz hasn’t made his love of rapping a secret, but neither has the radio when it comes to how it feels about Trey Songz, the rapper. Quick: Name a rap song from Trey as big as any of the aforementioned hit singles? Exactly. More, while misogynistic lyrics are typical of a rapper, how far does a pretty boy who sells his love and lovemaking songs – often performed shirtless – expect to go with his huge female audience when he’s calling them a bitch every other line in a song no one asked for?

Now, only a few short months away from his sixth release, Trigga, Trey Songz ought to ask himself what might get him back to the sort of success he enjoyed with Ready.

To be fair, Trey Songz is far from over. “No Reasons” and its cheers for “bitches and the drinks” at the club did manage to be a top-10 hit on the R&B charts. The same goes for “Dive In,” and his most recent single, “Na Na.” Nonetheless, the songs are not as big as past hits, and he now has competition in the younger and more consistent in sound August Alsina. August has a ways to go before he reaches Trey Songz’s level of success, though there’s something to be said about a mixtape track getting the kind of airplay and attention that none of Trey’s singles have gotten in a very long time.

So while Trey isn’t done, he’s presently not as big a deal as he used to be.

I wouldn’t say that August Alsina has made people forget about Trey; Trey has done a good enough job with that on his own. Unless Trey Songz learns how to dance and make a deal with Maleficient to get pop stations to give R&B artists the kind of chances they used to 10-15 years ago, chances are that he’ll never be the kind of “crossover” artist that Usher and Chris Brown are.

That’s not a bad thing, per se, as he can go back to being the premiere R&B male act with the right steps. The first, second and third should be for him to stop rapping. It’s fine if he wants to do that every now and again in the studio booth, but only if the recorder isn’t on. He should also look editing his projects better. People aren’t going to rush to spend Popeye’s Family Deal money on a 20-song album with only seven and a half good songs.

And seriously, in the spirit of every R&B singer that actually did right by the tradition, quit singing about “bitches” and your disdain for them. Pharrell has gotten a lot of attention for the success of “Happy,” but John Legend is enjoying a huge amount of mainstream success with “All Of Me.” Probably because it’s an R&B act doing quality R&B. Imagine that. —Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick)

Photo Credit: Getty Images