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.
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.