Trey Songz 'Trigga' Trey Songz 'Trigga'

Interview: Trey Songz Talks ‘Trigga,’ Love & Misogyny In R&B

You must be used to Trey spending, and all that sweet wining and dining, but you won’t find that on Trigga. The crooner’s sixth album finds him in the most brash musical space of his career, and Mr. Songz makes no apologies. Mirroring a time in the singer’s life where love is just not on the menu, Trigga reaffirms R&B’s current ruffian route. All for the sake of authenticity. -- Iyana Robertson

VIBE: So it’s a big day, if you’re into releasing albums and stuff. Trigga is album number six. How many moments did you have where you were just like “Damn, number six?”
Ah man, I’ve definitely been thinking that the whole time I’ve been promoting it. While I was creating it I knew it was album six, but when you have a conversation about it and you’re talking to people, it’s kind of like ‘Wow. I’ve been doing this for a while.’ [laughs]

Felt a little old there, huh?
It felt very, uh, seasoned [laughs]. But I’m excited about it. I think it’s my best album.

You told Larry King that you still remember the grind you put in for your first album. How has your creative process changed since then?
You know, the creative process then was for you to try to get the world to listen to you. And the creative process now that I’m established, is how do I evolve with the same staying power? And how do I show the same passion musically than when I’m not trying to get on anymore? Back then, you’re making music out of necessity; you’re doing it because you’re really trying to get on. Right now, it’s being on and having time to myself and having been made five albums, and between the fifth and sixth being able to really live a little - which I never really got to do in between albums. With this album, Trigga, I was my own boss more-so than ever, and I was never that in the beginning.

Let’s talk content on Trigga. It’s different than what you might expect from the average R&B album in regards to love. It’s almost like, when you’re in love on this album, you’re fucking it up. And when you’re not talking about love, you’re just trying to get with different girls. Was that the intention for the theme of the album?
I mean that’s really what’s been happening [laughs]. When I tell people that this album is the most honest album, it’s the album that speaks to what’s happening in my life right now, while I was making the music.

Like, if you listen to “Yes, No, Maybe,” it’s a song where I’m snapping because the girl I think is supposed to be down with me forever has now moved on and I’m like “What? Damn.” But on the same album, I have a song called “What’s Best For You” where it’s like, “If you’re moving on, then you’re moving on. If I can’t do for you what somebody else can, then I applaud you. I want you to do better.”

And the thing about being an R&B singer is, people want you to be in love, people want you to sing about love, and of course we need more songs about love. But that ain’t my truth right now. I’m not in love. I don’t have a girlfriend; I ain’t even really looking for one right now, you know? That’s definitely showcased in the music.

SEE ALSO: Review: 15 Thoughts On Trey Songz ‘Trigga’

But there are songs like "I Know (Can't Get Back)," where you talk about the fast lane and that you can get caught up. So you’re aware of where you are?
Yeah, I’m very aware of what’s happening. I know that I’m in the club, I know that I’m living a fast life. That’s just where I am right now. I’m not gonna lie to nobody about it. And I have had women that I’ve loved and I still have women in my life that I care a whole bunch about, that are still great friends of mine. But I ain’t really in the position to love nobody right now because I’m so focused, first of all, on making sure that I become a legend. And the true thing about love is, once you commit yourself to love -- if you’re gonna do it all the way -- you gotta be able to give yourself and be responsible for another’s person’s feelings and emotions. And I don’t have time for that right now.

So is Trigga your “Sasha Fierce” alter-ego type of thing? Do you blame all of your B.S. on him?
Oh, I ain’t blaming it on nobody because every ego of mine, or every nickname is all an extension of me.

Some people will cop the plea though.
Nah, I’m not in that space [laughs].

Okay good [laughs]. So you also have a deluxe edition of Trigga at Target, with three additional tracks: “Hard To Walk Away,” “Serial” and “Sneaky.” Are those songs in line with the rest of the album?
Definitely. Everything is very cohesive. The three songs for Target, I feel like are actually amazing songs. You know, because sometimes you have these deluxe editions with bonus records like “I got a couple of records I could throw away and put on there,” but it’s not like that at all for me. I think they’re great, quality records that could have been on the original album. That’s why I gave them to Target. We got such a great partnership, and I’ve done this before with them. And I just want my fans to know that I go extra hard.

You recently gifted a certain rapstress with a gang of flowers for contributing to your album. How did you link back up with Nicki Minaj and how important was it for you?
When I had the record done -- which was probably like a week before I had to turn in the album; that was one of the last records I did -- I hit Nicki up. And I know she was working on some features here and there, but Nicki does what she wants to do. So all the features she’s jumped on it’s been because she jumped on them and then they became a remix [laughs]. So I called her, told her I had this record that I loved, and she went in and killed it. Sent it back to me ASAP. And I sent her them flowers because I’m just proud of Nicki. Not only just ‘cause we got a record together or whatever. I’m proud of her. She’s holding it down as a woman in the game that’s so predominantly run by men, and she’s just a boss in her own right.

At the BET Awards this past weekend, you had a moment with August Alsina and Chris Brown. It felt like R&B was on display --
Man, you know what’s crazy? I said the same thing. It was like R&B was going crazy, right?

Right. It was an R&B type of night. And just looking at all the generations of R&B, a lot of people feel like the genre is super hard right now. That it’s misogynistic, it’s bordering the lines of rap. How do you feel about that?
I think hip-hop and R&B are kind of like in a hybrid that they’ve never been before. But a few years ago, hip-hop was R&B. Every rapper was singing. From Kanye with 808s & Heartbreak, to when Drake came out with “Best I Ever Had,” to Wayne with “How To Love.” So it’s genreless these days, I would say.

And the things about artists is, we want to be creative and we want to speak our minds and really do what it is that we want to do while still keeping the fans happy. But right now, everybody’s in their own lane kinda-sorta. I think with music, we often are told to stay inside some box because of the genre we’ve stepped into. I don’t think that’s fair, either. I think people should be allowed to make whatever music they want, and if people love it, it should be played wherever people love it.

I say that also to say, as long as music is truthful and music is real and coming from your heart, I think people can accept and appreciate that. Whether it’s misogynistic, whether it’s a little bit intense. If it’s true and it’s genuine, there has to be an appreciation for it. My album is very unapologetic, but at the same time, it’s real. And when I do speak about love, you feel the emotion there, whether I’m joyous about it or not, it’s still emotion. And I think that’s what music is, is emotion.

From the Web

More on Vibe

P Diddy promotes his new Diddy Dirty Money single 'Coming Home' and his headphones DiddyBeats at HMV, Oxford Street on January 20, 2011 in London, England.
Photo by Matt Kent/WireImage

'The Last Train To Paris' Turns 10: Revisit Diddy's Aug./Sept. 2010 VIBE Cover Story

YOU EVER WATCH a control freak mellow out? It’s fascinating. When said micromanager is Sean “Puffy” Combs, it’s an enlightening ordeal altogether. Sitting at trendy Asian eatery Philippe Chow in New York City, two days before LeBron James announces that he’s taking his show to South Beach, Combs has talking points: impact and legacy. “This ain’t a regular run,” says Combs of his two-decade laundry list of accomplishments. “I’m saying that in the most humble way possible. I’m me and I’m seeing it. Most times the impact of what you do you don’t even live to see it.”

He’s the only patron seated for the evening, lounging at a table that comfortably seats eight. This is clearly a Sean John zone. His voice remains even, but the arrogance skyrockets. “It trickles over into sports. It goes into the way the free agent negotiations are going. [Athletes] have that belief. But that level of confidence as Black businessmen wasn’t really there. Unforgivable swagger. That shit wasn’t there.”

Translation: Sean believes that his ambition has been infectious. In his “humble” opinion, his drive has taught the have-nots that not only can they have, but they can be gluttonous and acquire wealth rather than riches. Will it ruin his day if people don’t agree? Not really. But he’d still like the legacy to be accurately documented. His reactionary reflexes have given way to him thinking long term, which could be why he’s unfazed by trivial shots like 50 Cent’s claims of having nude pictures of his artist Cassie. He’s more interested in guiding careers—Rick Ross, Red Cafe and Dirty Money, among them. And really, he’d like to do square biz and have your kids’ kids respect him like his contemporaries admire Warren Buffet. That would truly be money in the bank. In the meantime, he wants to mellow with a plate of chicken satay and talk Diddy legacy.

VIBE: You have said that rap’s heavyweight class consisted of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Drake. Do you still believe that?

Diddy: Definitely. I feel like Drake is somebody that entered professionally in the heavyweight division. He didn’t come in as a middleweight, he didn’t come in as a light heavyweight, he came in as a heavyweight. He’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with for a while. He is the definition of a new age musical rapper . . . going forward a lot of rap artists are going to have [singing and rapping] in their repertoire.

What’s the ranking in that heavyweight division?

Jay, Kanye, Wayne, and Drake.

Jay still No. 1?

Hands down as far as worldwide impact and due to this last album [The Blueprint 3]. He’s moved up in the rankings.

People don’t realize that you two are friends and not just industry acquaintances.

Over the years as we’ve grown, Jay and I have needed each other. We’ve needed to be able to pick up the phone and call somebody that can understand what each other was going through. We needed each other to motivate each other; we needed each other to push each other. We needed each other to support each other and also to challenge each other. He’s definitely been a great friend to me. There’s never been anything that I’ve asked him to do or he’s asked me to do that we really haven’t done for each other.

Give an example of when you had to pick up the phone and call Jay for assistance.

I wanted to do something game-changing with Sean John. And I just picked his brain. I did [a fashion line] before him but I think that business-wise he did a lot of things better than me. He picked the right time to get out and get his check, to sell his company. We sat on the phone and talked about itŃput our egos in our pockets. I didn’t see Sean John versus Roc-A-Wear. I just saw that my man over here is doing it [and I had] a couple of offers for Sean John. It was a beautiful conversation, ‘cause we’re sitting down at this restaurant and we’re talking about apparel. We’re not talking about music. It was a beautiful moment. Two quarter-of-a-billion dollar companies—just getting advice from your competitor. It was something that you heard rich White boys do.

Dr. Dre said that the last beat that floored him was “All About the Benjamins.” How does that make you feel?

It’s humbling. I was in the studio with Dre the other day. He started working on a record for me. Watching him as a producer is watching greatness. We had a lot of similar traits. It was like looking in the mirror. He would ask questions like, “How you feel about this?” People don’t really understand true producers want to know how you feel about things. We are some of the most observant people on the planet.

You’re a lot more into the music now than the last time we spoke.

I was waiting to get a lot of inspiration from the outside and it just wasn’t coming. And I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle that’s out there. I just come from musical history that musically people gave more of themselves . . . I was able to go back and listen to all the great records that I made. I ain’t do it on purpose. Like sometimes I’d be in a club and the DJ was just throwing tributes and would go deep in the crates. I would be like, “Damn, I forgot that I made that one.” It just gave me a deep connection and another level of confidence for me to do me.

Are you feeling more comfortable writing on your own?

Yeah. I learned a lot more. I feel a lot more confident and free. On this album, I wrote like maybe two or three records by myself. But I still like writing with somebody. It helps me. Not using it as a crutch, but I get better results from co-writing; having my own feelings and thoughts, and, you know, getting some help with it. I love the feeling of collaboration, community in the studio. I don’t like being the mad scientist and being in the room by myself.

Continue Reading

Desus & Mero Bless A Bronx Bodega With A Year's Worth of Rent

You know them as the hosts of the hit Showtime series Desus & Mero, aka "the greatest show in late-night history, featuring only illustrious guests." These days you might catch them chatting with President Obama, but  Bronx natives Desus Nice and The Kid Mero have never lost touch with their roots as the Bodega Boys.

"On our first podcast me and Mero used to have to ride the train back afterward," recalls Desus. "And basically our conversation on the train sounded exactly like the podcast. And somebody was like, 'Yo, they sound like two guys you hear in the bodega.' Which was true, because when you hear guys in the bodega, they talk very passionately about things. They may not have all the facts, but they're talking with their hearts."

"Their confidence is strong!" adds Mero with a laugh.

"That's just us," says Desus. "We're raised in bodegas. Probably 90 percent of the food we grew up eating was either our mother's cooking or chopped cheese sandwiches."

"Facts," Mero confirms.

Ever since the pandemic hit, New York City's community bodegas have served as a lifeline by providing New Yorkers with daily necessities, especially in neighborhoods where door-to-door gourmet food delivery is not an option. But staying open hasn't been easy—the daily risks of doing business under threat from a deadly virus—not to mention a spike in robberies and violence—has made running a bodega very challenging, to say the least. But day in day out, in good times and bad, they find a way to keep their doors open.

"If your block is the solar system, the bodega is the sun," says Mero. "The hood orbits the bodega."

So when the makers of Pepsi cola decided to give back on the bodega owners who provide life-giving sustenance and ice-cold soda to NYC's five boroughs, they reached out to the Bodega Boys as their official goodwill ambassadors. Today Desus & Mero appear in a short film called The Bodega Giveback, which highlights the way one Bronx bodega overcame extreme hardship—and the way Pepsi is helping them keep going after 2020 comes to an end.

For Juan Valerio and his son Jefferson, the proprietors of JJN Corp Deli & Grocery in the Bronx, 2020 has been a horrible year. Juan still remembers when he came to America with his father in 1990. "To buy a bodega at that time was well over $100,000," Juan recalls in the short film, which you can watch above. "It was a dream that seemed unreachable. I never thought I would achieve it. And now this is what I do. My whole life is here."

Then in April 2020, tragedy struck when Juan's father lost his life to COVID 19. For the first time in three decades, the bodega had to close its doors down briefly. "It’s something very powerful to lose what you love the most in a split second," Juan recalls with emotion as his son comforts him with a hug. "Life goes on. And I decided to come back because he always taught me to work. To stay closed was disrespectful to him."

"He had to shut down for a little bit," says Desus. "But then he reopened cause the community needed him. Cause the lockdown a lot of stores closed down. And in the Bronx, you can't really get stuff delivered. And he's the hub. We heard stories of what he did, so we were like, how can we give back to him? Shout out to Pepsi with the Bodega Giveback. And just giving him a year's rent—that's the most amazing thing you can give a bodega owner. Shout out to Juan and his son. The look on their face when they really get it—you see the appreciation."

"It really hit home," said Mero. "Cause it's like, we're children of immigrants. So that could have been us—if we didn't get seen by the right people and put in the right positions, we coulda been workin' alongside our dad at a bodega. And then watchin' your grandfather pass away and then comin' back because you know how important you are to the community. Like, that's really selfless. It's just a dope story. And those stories occur all over the place, it's just people don't see them. Cause they don't get exposed on a national level. But a brand like Pepsi can put that on a national stage and be like,  "Yo, look—this is a mom and pop establishment for real. And these are the small businesses that you supposed to be supporting."

The release of The Bodega Giveback kicks off a larger holiday giveback from Pepsi this season that includes cash gifts to bodega owners and consumers across NYC's five boroughs.  “Pepsi has so many longstanding bodega partners in New York City,” said Umi Patel, CMO of North Division, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “They are not only pillars of the community, but they have gone above and beyond to take care of their loyal customers during the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have worked around the clock to stay open, filling shelves to ensure their customers, friends, and family have the essentials they need to stay home and stay safe. They have even shifted their businesses to meet the needs of the community, offering new delivery options, adding crucial items like masks and gloves, and more, all while dealing with their own personal challenges of the pandemic. We are proud to do our part in giving back to these unsung heroes.”

From now until December 20, Pepsi will also be surprising customers at local bodegas across the five boroughs by gifting pre-paid credit cards of up to $100.00 per customer.

As Juan says in the film, "one hand washes the other, and with both, we wash our face."

Check out our full convo with Desus & Mero above and the short film, The Bodega Giveback.

Continue Reading
Courtesy of Level.com

Level Announces Their 'Best Man 2020 Awards' Featuring Entertainment Elite to Everyday Kings

It is a hard feat for media brands to survive the content landscape these days. To pull off the incredible undertaking of informing an audience as a new publication in the digital space is damn near impossible, yet the team at Medium's Level has done just that. To celebrate making their mark as a one-stop information shop for black men with their one-year anniversary this week, the team of bright and witty editors has launched their first annual Best Man Awards 2020.

The plan to honor the brand that started in December of 2019, focused on the interests of African-American males, has expanded into encompassing the efforts of a few good men during this mess of a year that is 2020. In doing so, those that broke through barriers of personal pain, new business frontiers, and support of others are highlighted and given the rightful pedestals to gain well-deserved props.

Of the 12 awards, esteemed gents like Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, and D-Nice are saluted as Quarantine Kings for their Verzuz and Club Quarantine (respectively) social media music creations that entertained the masses during the dogged days of our universal shut-down. There is also a heroic soul of a man who protected a black woman and her family from the surrounding presence of racist neighbors on his own time and dime. They have an award for Father of the Year, where former NBA all-star and champion, Dwyane Wade shines as a glowing example of understanding and ushering in new ways of parenting in today's society.

With the awards being a noble move towards giving Black men some much-needed praise in 2020, Level made sure to round up the last 365 days with themes on "The State of Black and Brown Men" as well. Essays that cover the realms of political ideology, coping with covid among Blacks health care workers,  how Black men fell short of protecting Black women, and exploring what Black men see when they look in the mirror (a piece that is a user-generated content driver/audience-led convo). All hard topics that need to be detailed, yet are rarely in a space for deep-dive convo.

Helmed by former VIBE editor-in-chief, Jermaine Hall, Level's editors explain their thoughts on the special coverage and celebration of their one year old brand:

“With the Best Man Awards, we wanted to lean into people who are doing incredible things to support society and publicly thank them. Anthony Herron, Jr is a hero. He stepped up to protect someone he didn’t know because, as he saw it, harassment is unacceptable. LEVEL wanted to make sure he received a nod for his heroics. But there are also several celebrities who are doing things outside of their jobs. D-Nice, Swizz, and Timbaland helped us cope through music. And it wasn’t a paid gig for any of them. They responded because people needed help healing so they provided care. That’s a strong attribute of the LEVEL man. It’s certainly is the definition of men being their best selves."

Click here to read about these individuals and learn more about the Best Man Awards 2020. Excelsior to Level.

 

Continue Reading

Top Stories