Tre Williams is cognizant that there may be some comparisons between him and other new era R&B singers. As a new signee to Nas Ill Will Records, Tre is determined to make his mark in R&B and music in general.
Currently residing in New York, Williams grew up with his two brothers and two sisters in Daytona Beach, Florida. Eviction after eviction, along with arduous everyday life in the projects, inspired Williams to focus wholeheartedly on his music. Notably, his Amateur Night At The Apollo appearance was what really made the industry pay attention. His distinctive vocal abilities, thug-style and people person attitude had many wondering what he was capable of next.
Tre has made it no secret that he wants to bring R&B back, hinting – without mentioning names – that many artists these days are standoffish toward fans instead of embracing the love they receive. The R&B legend in the making has already teamed up with Hip-Hop acts including Styles P, Kanye West and Papoose. We caught up with Tre to discuss his movement to shed some positive light on a genre of music he says needs to make a serious comeback.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: When did you first develop an interest for R&B music? At first glance, many would mistake you for a rapper.
Tre Williams: I never could rap. My life in music started in church at the age of four. I used to go to choir rehearsal.
AHHA: How did you meet up with Nas?
Tre Williams: To fast forward my life, the Nas thing came about when I went to Nebraska last year to open a show for Gerald Levert. And when I got back to New York, I had a couple meetings set up with a couple other people. As I was coming out one of those meetings the phone rang and someone was like, Yo Tre, Nas wanna holla at you.
AHHA: Wait. So out of the blue Nass people got in contact with you?
Tre Williams: [laughs] Well, the people who promoted the show I opened for in Nebraska got the I-95 song [which features Styles P] and it was in heavy rotation in Nebraska. They loved the song out there in Nebraska, and they flew me out to perform. I was surprised. Im thinking they want me to do background work or do a hook or something? The people were like, No, Nas wants you to be on the label. I asked when they wanted to meet.
Ive been trying to do this for so long, and when youve been grinding hard and really going at it, you get so many of those stories and dreams and so many things thats supposed to happen. You watch [things] fall right in front of your face and you cant figure out why. My whole thing was, seeing is believing. I was like, Make me believe that this is going to happen.
AHHA: What was going through your mind when you and Nas sat down to meet?
Tre Williams: I felt like it was my time, and I felt that this was what God had in store for me. I felt like I was supposed to be there.
AHHA: Nas originally signed an artist, Quan who is now under a different record label. The rumor is that you were the replacement. Have you ever met Quan?
Tre Williams: I dont know the particulars behind that, and I dont wanna say anything thats untrue. I havent even met Quan. I know he wasnt dropped from Ill Will though. Quan is a rapper who can also sing and he didnt want to be a singer, he wanted to be a Hip-Hop artist, so I was gonna come aboard regardless. It wasnt an issue of replacement.
AHHA: You have a style similar to Jaheim. Do you think people will compare you or say you are trying to imitate him?
Tre Williams: In music whenever youre a new artist, they gotta find something to attach you to. They could attach me to someone who hasnt made any kind of moves and just flopped. You dont want that kind of attachment. So I feel honored that they do attach me to anybody thats done or is doing big things. This is the reason why I couldnt get in the door before, because I just didnt feel to transform my music to fit what R. Kelly was doing at the time, when he was super-hot or whoever was super-hot at the moment. [Executives at record labels] want you to sound like whoever is hot at the moment.
AHHA: There are so many male R&B artists out right now. What would you say makes you stand out from the rest?
Tre Williams: People dont realize the best of both worlds that I got. Being from Florida and living in Yonkers, I can do a song with Field Mob and be accepted, and then come back up to New York and do a show with Nas and Im accepted.
AHHA: What R&B artists have inspired you?
Tre Williams: People always like to ask who you pattern yourself after. I always say if you took a scoop of Luther and put it in a blender, take a scoop of Marvin Gaye, take a little bit of Eddie Levert, and then take a little piece of Tupac, and you put it all together -youre gonna come out with Tre Williams all day every time.
AHHA: Youre music has a lot of street influence when you hear it. Have you grown up being surrounded by street life?
Tre Williams: Ive had my shares of ups and downs. We had our days of eviction. Im from the projects. Im from Pine Haven in Daytona Beach. Growing up in Daytona, its hard to avoid legal trouble. I did my share of dirt and it never really caught up to me until one day I got shot in my leg. Thats when I realized my life had to change. I could either stay in Daytona and go through the system or even die or use my talent and try to make my momma proud.
AHHA: Do you write your own songs and if so, do you hope to write for other people?
Tre Williams: Yes, I write my own songs. I feel like I know exactly what I want to say and how I want my message to come across. I always want my music to have sort of message. It may be entertaining or serious, but someone will be able to get something from it. As far as me writing for other artists, I can see that happening after I establish myself as an artist. I write in my own style so I want people to understand and recognize that its my own style and then I can branch off as a writer.
AHHA: Many artists are coming out with clothing lines and appearing in movies. How long do you see yourself doing music? Do you want to get into anything else?
Tre Williams: As soon as the door is fully open, Im flooding the corporate world. I have a movie and a sitcom thats ready to go. As far as doing music, I do it because I love it. It just so happens that I can also make a living doing it. Even if I couldnt I would still sing. Thats the gift that God gave me and I want to share it as long as I can breathe. I look forward to acting, writing and anything else the entertainment world has to offer me, as long as its not degrading.