Ne Yo Looking For Continued Success
Posted on March 19, 2007 by Jamie Slaughter
Beginning with the release of Ne-Yo's platinum debut In My Own Words in 2006, life hasn't been the same for the Las Vegas native. "The transition from being in the background as a songwriter and being an artist took a little getting used to," Ne-Yo laughs. "It's a lot different being the guy that nobody knew two years ago to people asking for autographs, but, I'm not complaining."
With the release of Ne-Yo's sophomore disc, the talented performer is ready to reveal his stellar growth as a songwriter, his maturity as a man and his prowess as a performer. "I write from personal experience, so everything in my life becomes a part of my songs," Ne-Yo confesses. "In my opinion, the essence of a good song provokes thought while also making you feel some kind of emotion."
Ne-Yo also proved himself a masterful songwriter penning such gems as Rihanna’s "Unfaithful” top-ten hit “ and co-writing Beyonce’s mega-blast “Irreplaceable.” That track was on the Billboard Hot 100 number-one single for ten weeks. “I suppose growing-up around so many women must have given me some insight,” says Ne-Yo, who is currently writing songs for Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Britney Spears. “I used to hear everything my mom, aunts and sisters would say about life and love. When I write songs for women, I pull from those learned experiences.”
In addition to winning the prestigious Male R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year award at the 2006 Billboard Awards (where he was also a nominee in three other categories, including Male Artist of the Year, New Artist of the Year, and R&B/Hip-Hop Single of the Year for “So Sick,” his premiere single) and was nominated for two 2007 Grammy’s: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his chart-topping hit “So Sick” and Best Contemporary R&B Album.
“I can remember being home a few years ago watching the award shows on television, just hoping that one day I could be there,” Ne-Yo says. “Now, I’m not only there, but I’ve been nominated. Believe me, it’s a good feeling.” Still, like his musical heroes Prince and Frank Sinatra, Ne-Yo clearly understands that the secret of musical success is spending long hours in the studio. “Even when I was on the road, filming my feature debut Stomp the Yard or performing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, I was always thinking about the songs I wanted to write for this new album.”
In “Because Of You” one can hear a soulful purity that has been absent from R&B for some time. Produced by Ne-Yo’s old friends Stargate, who first broke-out with their work on “So Sick,” the uptempo “Because of You” has already started blazing from stereo speakers. “I wanted this song to kind of pick-up where “Sexy Love” left off,” Ne-Yo says. “It’s about being in love with a person so much that it turns into an addiction. No matter how many times you might break-up, you keep going back, because you just can’t help yourself.”
Writing and performing material that his fans can relate to is another gift that shines through on the radiant “Do You?”. With a beat that manages to be cool and hard simultaneously, Ne-Yo’s love ache can be felt as he addresses an old flame. “I wanted this song to sort of pick-up where ‘So Sick’ left off,” he says. “My ex-girl is getting married, but still I’m writing her a letter telling her I care, while wondering, ‘Do You?’”
Like the best songwriters, Ne-Yo has his own special formula when he’s in the lab. “My motto is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ I don’t want a lot of people contributing too many ideas to the writing process, because I know what I want. I’m not trying to make a song that is hot for the moment, I’m writing songs that I hope fifty years from now, people are still singing. For me, it’s all about longevity.”
With its smooth ‘80s groove that are like musical waves splashing on the beach, “Angel” is one of those eternal songs. “This is one of those songs I thought about for a while,” Ne-Yo informs. “The concept was what it would be like to be in a relationship with a real angel. Of course, it would be blissful, but no matter how much you love the angel she could never really be yours, because angels belong to God. Eventually, she’ll have to go back to heaven.” Produced by newcomer Scientist, the beat is reminiscent of the vintage Minneapolis sound laid-down my his royal badness. “Prince is the main reason I do what I do, so I wanted this to be a homage to him.”
As a testament to how far Ne-Yo has been and where he wants to go, Ne-Yo’s upcoming release is a masterful excursion through the heart and mind of America’s latest soul boy wonder.