10 Years Ago: Trey Songz’s ‘I Gotta Make It’ Album Births an Unlikely R&B Superstar
You'd be hellbent to argue against Trey Songz being one of biggest stars in R&B at the moment. With a laundry list of hits to his credit, the Petersburg, Va. native has slowly, but surely built a reputation for being an artist that fans can bank on. His songs and albums always move the needle in the right direction.
But initially, the road wasn't a smooth one for Trey Songz, whose first album, I Gotta Make It, debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling a modest 40,000 copies in its first week of release. The numbers were far from a brick, but not exactly breaking news considering that same year singers like Chris Brown's self-titled debut shot to No. 1 with 154,000 copies in its first week. I Gotta Make It, released on July 26, 2005, may have been slept-on by the mainstream, but the project was championed by many fans of contemporary R&B for its quality lyrics and Trey's enticing vocals. The LP, put out by Atlantic Records, would ultimately serve as the foundation for what would prove to be a fruitful and memorable career for the singer.
Listeners get a glimpse of the goods that I Gotta Make It has in store for them on the album's intro, "A Message From Aretha," which features the soul icon sending some motivational words to Trey Songz. After that priceless cosign, he hits us with the opening track, "Gotta Make It." Co-produced by Kookie and Troy Taylor, with the latter also providing additional vocals, the beat contains a sample of the Ebony's "It's Forever" and is powered by by drum kicks, hand claps and dainty piano keys that bolster the soulful affair at hand.
"Shawty, all I got is a dollar and a dream, is you gon' roll wit' me / You see, I tried that 9-to-5 and it just don't fit me / I can get us out the hood and have us living good, you feel me? / But I ain't leaving if you ain't wit' me," he croons. The Prince of Virginia turns in an admirable performance and confirms he's no saccharine song bird, but a talented vocalist that reps for the hood. Chi-Town lyricist Twista makes an appearance on the track, turning in an inspirational verse of his own and lends a little star power to the song, which was released as the album's lead-single, peaking at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Watch Trey Songz's "Gotta Make It" Video Feat. Twista
After a solid introductory track, we're hit with the impressive banger, "Cheat on You," which finds the heartthrob admitting to his struggles with infidelity over a riveting soundbed courtesy of Troy Taylor. "Hey ladies, I know you gotta feel me on this / You see, there's something that's been worrying me and I need to get it off my chest," he sings. Trey glides into the groove of the beat, which contains elements of Con Funk Shon's 1979 hit, "(Let Me Put) Love on Your Mind" and is reinforced by sturdy drums and claps, making for an all-out winner.
He then hits us with a dreamy selection in the form of "Gotta Go," the second single released from I Gotta Make It. The mid-tempo ballad shows he's more than capable of crafting a prototypical love song. Produced by Troy Taylor and co-written by Marvin Smith, Taylor and Trey, the track is the LP's most successful song, peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and helping widen the singer's fan base.
"It's still ringing in my ear, you screaming 'I don't care' / And I can see it like it just went down, you walking out of there," he belts on the regretful "All the Ifs," which finds him lamenting his missteps in a relationship gone wrong. The promising star then turns in a tune dedicated to all of the woman that keep the home and the community together and explains the importance of a father in a young man's life on "From a Boy to a Man" before slowing down the tempo for the sensuous heater, "Kinda Lovin." Trey serves up a breezy ditty with the I Gotta Make It cut, "Comin' for You," which features an infectious bridge, hook and backing beat, making the song a noteworthy moment on the album.
I Gotta Make It gets lively on the bouncy offering, "Just Wanna Cut," as Trey prowls the dance floor in pursuit of a little action with a curvy cutie on the sneak tip. Admitting he's a taken man that's just in search of a good time, Trey delivers a track that is all but a precursor to his eventual Mr. Steal Yo' Girl moniker. Things get steamy on the indelible "In the Middle," which stands as one of the better tracks on the LP due to its strong songwriting and plush instrumentation. The crooner hits on all cylinders and gives the ladies something to blush about. "Make Love Tonight" is reminiscent of R. Kelly's stylings, but is far from a jack and foreshadows the eventual comparisons of the two that would come to be.
Upping the ante on "Hatin Love," Trey Songz gets vulnerable, crooning, "Love ain't s'posed to feel this way / Love ain't s'posed to hurt or cause me pain / Love ain't s'posed to make me cry / But now I'm tryna' wipe my eyes / I'm hating love," while recounting a past relationship with a unfaithful woman. Then "Gotta Go (Reprise)" serves as a thank you letter to all of his supporters, past and present, that have affected his life and career for the better before unleashing the remix to "Gotta Make It," which features a guest appearance from Aretha Franklin on the vocals. The remix stays true to the original version by including a rap verse, with Juvenile replacing Twista and lending his countrified flow to the selection, making for a swell ending to a great album.
Watch Trey Songz's "Gotta Go" Video
Trey Day, the follow-up to I Gotta Make It, would mark an uptick in first-week sales for the singer in 2007, and would produce his first Top 20 hit, "Can't Help But Wait," which climbed all the way to No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Trey Day would fail to earn the young star any hardware in terms of award show plaques, but the singer's third release, Ready, would be the album to put him over the top and solidify him as one of the brightest stars in all of R&B.
Selling 131,000 copies in its first week of release, Ready served as the coming-out party his diehard fans had been waiting for since Gotta Make It and would go on to be certified platinum, launching him into the elite class of singers with a solid pen game and vocals to match alongside the likes of Usher, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo. The only difference is that while those artists came out of the gate with fanfare, Trey Songz took the stairway to success and stands as one of the more remarkable success stories of the past decade.
Happy 10th birthday, I Gotta Make It.
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