The debut single from Trey Songz, Just Gotta Make It, has been in heavy rotation since it hit radio and BET video shows, but the Petersburg, Virginia native has been around for a while now. By the time he was only 15, Trey Songz had won over 20 talent contests in his hometown area. It was ultimately an acapella version of an original song that caught the ear of veteran producer Troy Taylor.
After completing high school, Trey dove into his dreams of making music. He moved to New Jersey to pursue his career, and was making noise on the generally rap-oriented mixtape circuit. Never one to follow the standards, his choice to put out dozens of Hip-Hop influenced R&B mixtapes gave him the voice that he needed to establish his sound and work up a buzz in the streets.
After gaining the attention of Atlantic Records, Trey Songz has not only put together a highly-acclaimed debut album, Gotta Make It, he has put together a journal for fans to hear. The young prince recently took some time out of his hectic schedule talk with AllHipHop.com Alternatives about his path from small town musings to nationwide recognition.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: What made you start doing mixtapes? Thats not the traditional route of an R&B singer.
Trey Songz: I did it because it gave me a lot of freedom to say what I cant say on mainstream records. It gave me a chance to really showcase my skills and [it gave me a chance] to put out what the type of music I want to put out.
AHHA: How was it getting into a mini confrontation with R. Kelly, because he had some words for you after you made a song with a similar title to his beat for In The Closet?
Trey: I mean, really for my song that I created for my mixtape, yeah his song [In The Closet pt1] had a major influence, because he is one of my influences. So when I heard his song, I was like, Man thats hot. I got something to go with that. And I took the beat and created my own song, because really thats what we do on mixtapes – take peoples beats and do our own thing. But I think his beef was that people said I sounded like him, because honestly if I made a song that was as big as In The Closet, I would have been mad too. To him, I am some kid coming in and remaking his song, so with me there was no beef because I understood where he was coming from.
AHHA: Since you are in the process of shooting your new video for Gotta Go, can you give us a taste of what we will see when it debuts?
Trey: Well, all I can really say is it will feature me with a mic in front of an all white background, the rest you guys will have to wait and see. [laughs]
AHHA: You are also about to embark on your first tour. What are you most and least looking forward to?
Trey: I am most looking forward to connecting with my fans, for them to get to really feel me and what I am really saying in my music. The least thing I am looking forward to is being away from home even longer than I am now. I have been away now for a while, but I dont want it to be abnormal to see me hanging out in my hometown.
AHHA: Being thrust into the limelight so fast, what is the one thing that you miss about just being a normal person?
Trey: I miss people just acting normal, because with fame comes people expecting things from you. So I really wish that people would just approach me like a normal person and try to get to know me, not who I know or what I can do.
AHHA: What is your ideal woman? What would a woman experience as an ideal date with Trey Songz?
Trey: I love a woman who can cook, and one who is pretty and takes care of herself. I love a woman who is sexy and knows it, because shes confident. As far as on a date, I love to have fun and just chill. If any woman is down to have fun, whether its watching a movie or whatever as long as we are having fun its all good. But the most important thing is that she is getting to know me, not like an interview but really interested in who I am.
AHHA: You seem pretty laid back and cool. Looking back, what would you say is the craziest thing you have ever done to get a females attention?
Trey: I am always cool [laughs], but I would say that the craziest thing I did was chase a girl five blocks after I tried to play it cool and let her walk away. I sat there for like one minute contemplating on whether I should holla at her or not, then next thing you know I just took off running, and I dont run. [laughs] But I got her though.
AHHA: I hear you love to bowl. Are you any good?
Trey: Yeah, I bowl an average of 271 and the top is 290 so you be the judge. [laughs] Naw, but I love it. Thats only thing I like to do besides chill with my boys.
AHHA: Do you think being from such a small area was a hindrance to a career in music?
Trey: No, not really because I never really thought that I was going to be doing music professionally. I always performed and competed in shows locally for fun, so it never bothered me being from Petersburg.
AHHA: What changed your mind to make you want to actively pursue music and put out mixtapes?
Trey: The mixtapes actually came about when I lived in New Jersey. We just did that for fun and just to prove to the streets I had skills. I guess what made me really want to do the music thing was the fact that I was good at it and I was having fun doing it, because I really never had any dreams about being a doctor or anything I always knew I would have a job but not really a career.
AHHA: With all of the talent that has been coming out of VA, did the success of artists like Missy, Timbaland and the Neptunes play a factor in your decision?
Trey: Not really. I mean they are from bigger cities in Virginia where they have tall buildings and stuff and thats nothing like Petersburg. So them doing big things is good for them, but it really didnt play a factor in my decision.
AHHA: On the flip side, how does it feel knowing that you have inspired up-and-comers to pursue their dreams?
Trey: It makes me feel real good to know that I am not only inspiring people from VA, but also people from all over. I mean for people to say that my song helps them get through their rough days really says something to me.
AHHA: I hear you have a single coming out with another up and comer from Virginia named Lil Nikki that will be featured on her album. How did that come about?
Trey: Lil Nikki and I did that song a few years ago when we were both coming on the scene, I think she was 14 at the time, but she is an incredible artist, and she is definitely doing her thing. As far as how we linked up, I will do a record with anyone who is about music and talented. I dont care who they are, because I am just about making good music.
AHHA: How would you describe your style?
Trey: A young G. [laughs] Naw, its simple, because I am a simple person. I am very humble, I have never been one of those people that couldnt talk to anyone and I have remained that way. I love music, and I will try my best to explore different aspects of it – by keeping the hunger and drive that I have right now.
AHHA: What can people expect from your album?
Trey: An album full of real music, an album that I put my heart and soul into. I think that fans who dont know me will really know me after they listen to this album. I definitely feel that its an album you can just play all the way through no matter what youre in the mood for. [laughs]
AHHA: Out of all the tracks, what is your favorite?
Trey: Its a song that started out as a song on my mixtape, but people were digging it so much that I put it on my album. Its the song called Your Behind. [laughs] Its for all my ladies out there with a big butt. I love it because I am acting a fool and saying what I want to say.
AHHA: What other projects are you working on? Rumor has it that you are working on another mixtape.
Trey: Yeah, I have a mixtape coming out that features Paul Wall, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and I am also working on a project with Young Jeezy for his mixtape. I am working with Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Gerald Levert and Eddie Levert.
AHHA: How was it being new on the scene and working with greats like Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and Gerald and Eddie Levert?
Trey: Its a blessing for real. It still seems surreal to me because these are people that I listen to for inspiration, so to work with them and they believe in what I am doing so much that they want to work with me is crazy.
AHHA: How would you sum up exactly who Trey Songz is?
Trey: I am the realest person anyone could meet, I love music and for my Hip-Hop fans f*ck wit ya boy, [laughs] because I am here to stay.