Trey Songz deepened his image and his work beautifully with his latest album. This brilliant unreleased track produced by the great Salaam Remi – who is basically the best producer making black pop right now that no one is really paying attention to – from those sessions probably wouldn’t have really fit on the album, sonically or lyrically. It, in the lyrics, returns Songz to a more juvenile and disturbing view of a woman’s sexual pleasure that is deeply problematic and totally at odds with the more restrained and thoughtful work on Passion Pain & Pleasure.
But beyond that it is definitely in the spirit of what has been most interesting about Trey Songz – his increasing willingness to experiment with different sounds without coming across schizophrenic or like he’s a cynical “throw everything at the wall and see if it sticks” kind of artist.
Take “Be Where You Are,” (from Ready) which is a straight ahead pop song:
Or the electronic soul lament, “Black Roses” (also from Ready):
Or “Blind,” (from Passion Pain & Pleasure) which is basically 90s alternative rock:
…and you really get a fuller picture of Trey Songz as the versatile artist that he really is. And there’s a throughline here – his unique ability to convey tremendous longing – that links his work even though it is stylistically different.
“Spray” though makes you sort of long for Trey Songz to do a full-length album of its brand of hip-hop soul. I would love for him to do an album that is produced entirely by Salaam Remi* and Bei Maejor (who produced “Black Roses” and “Blind”).
It is fair to quibble with his vocal limitations (though silly to ignore how effectively he uses what he has and the sheer authority he displays on a track). And it would be foolish to not point out that until his fourth album his albums were mostly a mixed bag of great songs and unimaginably bad songs (seriously..the less said about “LOL :)” the better).
But at this point, it is hard to get around the fact that he is the premier male R&B artist of his generation. There is just no other young new jack at this moment who so completely and masterfully understands and articulates who he wants to be as an artist, warts and all.
*Full disclosure – right now I pretty much think Salaam Remi should be producing everybody. First and foremost, Kelly Rowland and Brandy. They need him so badly and he could just make them the dominant forces that they deserve to be.