President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": How many young artists do you know that would have the opportunity to feature R&B greats like Aretha Franklin on their first CD? He came out the door in July 2005 with "Just Gotta Make it," and it blasted from Chicago radio stations nonstop. Chicago loves this guy, and considering how much he visits the Windy City or makes guest appearances to local schools like Simeon Vocational High School to talk about increasing the peace, we have a reason to show him love.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: I'd just quit a receptionist job at a claims company and was working for a black men's magazine for $400 every two weeks. I'd lost 15 pounds, but I was having the time of my life writing by the lakefront and networking through sites like BlackPlanet. But I knew that was going to have to come to an end because $800 is not easy living for Chicago expenses. I kept hearing the song "Gotta Make It" and it became my theme song.
I also broke up with a guy because of Trey Songz's CD. My boyfriend (at the time) asked me for $20. I refused to give it to him, said I was broke but bought Trey Songz CD anyway. The guy was used to milking past girlfriends for their money and I refused to loan him a dime. My ex was furious that I bought some random artist's CD but wouldn't let him borrow my money. Five years later and I'd have made the same decision all over again. The guy wasn't worth my time. The CD was. And I learned that I could make $800 stretch. I saw Trey Songz perform a couple years later at my alma mater's, Lincoln University, homecoming when he was still pretty new. I knew he was going to be big just from his stage presence.
I also interviewed Trey Songz in 2009 at Chicago's Swiss Hotel when I worked for the Chicago Defender newspaper. I was caught off-guard by how friendly he is. I didn't expect him to necessarily be mean, but I reached for a handshake and he reached for a hug twice. He seems to like to smile and has charisma dripping from his pores. Personally I think he should've been the one singing "I'm a Flirt" instead of one of his mentors R. Kelly, which is ironic considering he's pretty critical of the Pied Piper these days. He was also just as fun to watch during the Simeon event previously mentioned and of course the girls squealed when he sang after the nonviolent speaking event came to a close.
Accomplishments from the Artist: According to Billboard.com, his 2009 CD "Ready" spent 37 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. "Neighbors Know My Name" spent 23 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart, and "I Invented Sex" spent 40 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. This is tremendous progress considering "Trey Day" only had one hit single to stay on the charts, "Can't Help But Wait" for 24 weeks. Although "Gotta Make It," "Your Behind" and "Comin' for You" are still my favorite songs, "Ready" clearly took him to new heights. He's kissed singer Toni Braxton, made songs with hip-hop stars like Drake, sang live with R&B stars Tyrese and Johnny Gill, and been onstage with R&B legend Stevie Wonder.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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