As a rapper in 2009, dropping a mixtape to create a buzz for your name before you release an album has almost become mandatory. Rarely, however, do you see an R&B artist follow this same tactic. With that said, Trey Songz' decision to put two mixtapes out this year, Anticipation and The Genesis, has benefited him through his internet fanbase. Now, with his third studio album Ready, Songz hopes he has the quality to match the work ethic.
Following an intro, Trey makes his presence felt with the record “Neighbors Know My Name.” Just as the title would imply, Songz paints a picture of the lustful scenarios that occur behind closed doors. Showcasing his vocal range in the second verse, Trey proves he’s more than a typical hook singer that some may think he’s become over the last few years.
The topic of love making has been Songz bread and butter in the past, and he’s also not afraid to step in if the other guy isn’t cuttin’ it. “Does He Do It” finds him displaying all the ways he’s better than her ex-boyfriend, and “Holla If You Need Me” is a record that focuses on his dependability as a bedroom partner. At 24 years old, Trey Songz has yet to make the leap to “grown-man” status with his lyricism, and appropriately there is still time before he would need to. Having said that, “Jupiter Love” is a convincing journey into what his future holds. As a sensual atmosphere becomes potent from the sultry keys driving the melody to Songz providing his most sincere performance yet, this ballad could without a doubt set the mood for a baby-making session.
Ready is not all happy endings (no pun intended), however. On “Black Roses,” Songz takes a direct approach to a break up that puts him in a mental stalemate. Backed by a rugged beat and cursing the thought of the past, Songz sings, “Who knew our love would ever be called a memory / Who knew my home for happiness would soon be misery / Hate that we’re so distant, girl do you even miss me at all? / I guess life is no fair.” While not as effective, “Love Lost” is another record with Songz wearing his heart on his sleeve. Knowing there’s no way for reconciling the relationship, he helplessly pleads, “And now I see the man you need / When I look into the mirror I see change / Then I close my eyes and wish you could see the same / But it’s too late.”
Similar to his past two albums, Trey Songz enlists a handful of rappers on Ready to show off his star power. Most notably, the record between him and Drake on “I Invented Sex” [click to listen] proves to be the best collaboration on the album, as a smooth, infectious melody supports the duo well. Then there’s “Successful,” which despite its heavy rotation on radio, actually suffers with the added verse from Trey. “Say Aah” with Fabolous [click to read] is a catchy record that could likely pass as a club staple, but it’s generic theme lacks creativity. This is especially true as the hook features a similar take on Jamie Foxx’s [click to read] “Blame It.” However, this is nowhere near the integrity Trey Songz loses on “LOL :-).” Chronicling an updated version of a booty call, Gucci Mane [click to read] and Soulja Boy [click to read] put their own spin on it via text message and Twitter. Regardless of Trey’s intentions to make a playful record that is radio friendly, this is seemingly one step forward and three steps backward for the self-proclaimed “Prince of Virginia.”
As a whole, Ready is a solid effort from Trey Songz. While he and his producer/mentor Troy Taylor still have some kinks to work out, sonically, Songz is moving in the right direction. Now, the real question is whether the world is ready for Trey. For what it’s worth, he seems to think so.