Looking dapper as he took the stage at the upscale Joe's Pub in New York, Trey Songz wanted to make it clear that he was ready to shed the baggy jeans of his youth and embrace a more adult style.
The 24-year-old Virginia native, born Treymaine Neverson, is also showing his growth on his third studio album, the aptly titled "Ready." The project is slated for a Sept. 1 release on Song Book/Atlantic Records.
"This album is very adult, very easygoing and very sexy," he says. "It feels cohesive and reflects the changes you see in me physically, with my new haircut, and everything else that represents me evolving into manhood."
Songz worked with producers Stargate, Johnta Austin, Troy Taylor, Carlos "Los DaMystro" McKinney, Eric Hudson and Bryan-Michael Cox on the album. The featured guests include Drake, Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy Tell'Em.
Collectively, they came up with a slew of tracks that not only reveal Songz' maturity but also cater to his female and male fan bases. The single "Brand New" finds the singer trying to seduce a club-going woman, not-so-subtly crooning, "I wanna leave with you so we can get it on," over a thumping bassline and heavy guitar riffs. The first single, "I Need a Girl," finds Songz putting a request out for a female companion over piano and slinky guitar strings. It's No. 7 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Other songs on the album include "Neighbors Know My Name," which alludes to how loud his girlfriend yells his name during their love-making; "One Love," about not breaking a commitment between two people that love each other; "One Mile, One Heart, One Love," which Songz dubs "a classic love song"; "LoL (Smiley Face)," featuring Mane and Soulja Boy, is a fun track about "flirting through the digital world"; and "Successful," his collaboration with newcomer Drake that also appears on the latter's "So Far Gone" mixtape. "Successful" is No. 11 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
"My first album was very adult-like, but in a different, more soulful, sample-driven kind of way, and my second one was more contemporary and trendy," Songz says. "On this one, we're breaking down every song, every hook, every chorus, every bridge, and we're making sure every song is the best song it could be. This album isn't just going to be a compilation of songs, but a classic body of work."
To promote the album, Dionnee Harper, Songz' product manager, says the plan is to do an extensive online campaign. He recently launched a blog site titled SeeFurtherThanIAm.com, on which he streams live chats and behind-the-scenes videos. Through Twitter he releases a new track every Monday, including some off his latest mixtape, "Anticipation," which he gave away for free on his Web page. Then there's his official Web site, TreySongz.com, which includes news bits, tour dates, press photos, media and a bio.
Harper says the label will soon team with online sites for Songz site skins and banner ads, as well as have the artist interact with his fans through various social networkings. An online store is also in the works.
Offline, Songz embarked on a promo tour July 25, with stops in Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas and the Carolinas to attend radio events and listening sessions. He will also go on a House of Blues tour starting in September, a college tour in October and November, and, potentially, an arena tour.
Songz recently filmed an episode of the ABC show "Lincoln Heights" that will air Sept. 15, and he also appears in a movie titled "Preacher's Kid" alongside R&B singer LeToya Luckett, slated for release this year. Ad campaigns will run on MTV and BET.
This is just the beginning of Songz' evolution, but it all starts with this album. "There is lots of innovation on this project," he says. "This album is very self-defining and very definitive of the type of artist I'm going to be for the rest of my career."