Few things are better than Trey Songz taking his shirt off as he sings us a love song. Fortunately, both of those things will take place this weekend when he hits the stage at the ESSENCE Music Festival on Friday, July 6, in New Orleans. But first, we caught up with the Virginia native just after he’d landed in Los Angeles for a few days. Jet lagged and groggy, the crooner was kind enough to talk with ESSENCE.com about his fifth album Chapter V, chasing Alicia Keys and Beyoncé and just why he decided to sing a song about “b*tches” for his second single “2 Reasons” featuring T.I.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us a bit about your fifth album, Chapter V.
TREY SONGZ: This is the album that I’ve had the most control over creatively, including marketing and timelines, as well as feeling comfortable enough in my success to take time off and tour the world. From performing for 100,000 people in Australia to 55,000 people in Angola, I just had different experiences when I returned to the music.
ESSENCE.com: With your international travels, can we expect a bit of dance music influence?
SONGZ: No, this album will serve my core audience. A lot of artists and music trends are going toward Euro-pop and it’s fast money. Chapter V will showcase everything from me. I’m very proud of it. I’m getting all of the mixes now.
ESSENCE.com: Did Alicia Keys or Beyoncé stop by for a duet?
SONGZ: Those are two of my dream collaborators but I haven’t been able to realize that dream. I do have a whole bunch of rappers on this album, including Big Sean, Rick Ross, Diddy and Meek Mill.
ESSENCE.com: Speaking of serving your audience, on your new song “2 Reasons” featuring T.I., you sing that you came to the club for the “b*tches and the drinks.” Do you think that chorus super-serves your fans?
SONGZ: That’s actually my second single — my first was “Heart Attack,” so the second single is just a fun record for the club. The way I view it is women have kind of made ‘b*tch’ a word of empowerment amongst themselves. For example, they’ll say ‘I’m a bad b*tch’ — that’s not bringing their character down, they’re just embracing what been so fought over for so long. So I came for the bad b*tches and the drinks, believe that.
ESSENCE.com: Are you prepared for any backlash that may come from that language?
SONGZ: The thing about doing music, you’re in a public space so you have to be prepared for people’s opinion. I make a lot of my music for people and the same amount for myself, so there’s a bit of truth in every song.