The Music of Ne-Yo - The 'Ear' of the Gentleman
The Music Prodigy
For his first hit single, he sang:
‘And I am so sick of love songs
So tired of tears
So done with wishing
You were still here.’
Despite being 'so sick' , he has ironically gone and penned some of best love songs for himself and for other artists. And in the process has had multi platinum albums, No:1 hits and Grammy nominations.
He is one of the best singer song-writers to emerge in the recent times captured my interest and loyalty with a series of melodious, elegantly written love songs as well as catchy, captivating dance numbers.
I am astonished at his range and abilities. It is a rare talent that can write and perform. It is even rarer to see someone whose writing is so rich and his ability to collaborate with many current his artists is so sublime, even if you didn’t know who he is, you are certain to have heard his words through one singer or another.
Ne-Yo- So Sick
Ne-Yo is born
Anyone who has seen the Matrix will remember that scene in the claustrophobic hotel corridor. Neo Anderson, the self doubting ‘one’ who is convinced he is not the messiah everyone thinks he is, watches the two agents of destruction rush towards him.
Suddenly it clicks. He could see them for what they are. He could see every alphanumeric squiggle that comprises the matrix. He could see the intricate details, the nuances, the cunning defences and the expansive construct that is the very ‘Matrix’ itself. He could see the truth.
Producer Big D Evans, who worked with Shaffer Chimere Smith, jr., was astonished at how much the young singer songwriter understood music. Smith could conjure up lyrics at a blink of an eye. He knew how the words fitted around the tune and vice versa. His musicality was nothing short of astounding. Big D, felt that Smith could ‘see’ music for what it is. He understood the nuances the catchy hooks and the emotion contained within so well. Big D teasingly called Smith ’ Ne-Yo’, as he felt the young singer saw music just like Neo Anderson saw the Matrix.
The name stuck. Shaffer Chimere Smith, became Ne-Yo and was launched into the music world.
Mario single- Let me love you - Written by Ne-yo
Biography & Early Career
Born on October 18th 1982 in Camden Arkansas, Shaffer Chimere Smith a.k.a. Ne-Yo, grew up with musical parents. His mother, of African-American and mixed Chinese descent separated from his African-American father when Ne-Yo was young. Both his parents were musicians.
Mother and son relocated to Las Vegas, where his mother hoped to seek new opportunities while bringing her talented son as a single parent.
While still in school Ne-Yo was in a band called Envy. They disbanded in 2000 and Ne-Yo started song writing for other artists before embarking on a solo career of his own.
Ne-Yo first broke into big time by penning the hit song ‘Let me Love you’ for singer Mario. The song went into Billboard chart's at No:1. The success of this song led to a contract with Columbia records to pen his own album. However, despite recording a full album he was dropped by his record label unceremoniously.
One of the tracks from this unreleased album called ‘That Girl’ was released by Marques Houston in his album MH and became a hit and Ne-Yo was soon writing songs for top billing.
He continued writing for singers such as Christina Milian, Mary J Blige and Faith Evans.
In my own words
Because of you
Year of the Gentleman
2011 ( forthcoming)
Love and Passion
In My Own Words
In 2006 Ne-Yo released his first album, ‘In my own words’. The single ‘So sick’ went into no:1 in billboard charts and so did the album which rapidly went platinum. Enjoying much radio play, this song established Ne-Yo as one to watch for.
Because of You
The Second Album, ‘Because of You’ followed in 2007 and also debuted at no:1 in the charts boosted by the success of the title track. However, the other tracks failed to reach top levels of the charts.
Because of you
The Year of the Gentleman
It was with his 3rd album that Ne-Yo hit the dizzy heights of superstardom. 2008 was, truly, The Year of the Gentleman. The album established his image of a suave rat-pack type suited gentleman, shedding his bad boy hip-hop image. Gone were the loose clothes and bling replaced by tailored suits and a trilby.
The album went multi platinum fuelled by such mega hits as ‘Closer’, ‘Miss Independent’ and ‘Mad’
The album was nominated forBest Contemporary R&B Album and Album of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards, "Closer" for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, and "Miss Independent" for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.
On hearing Closer, I was hooked. It has a beautifully melodic tune wrapped in a catchy beat and showcases his musical sensibilities.
‘Turn the lights off in this place
And she shines just like a star
And I swear I know her face
I just don’t know who you are
Turn the music up in here
I still hear her loud and clear
Like she’s right there in my ear...’
Miss Independent, with its catchy riffs and suave lyrics firmly made me a fan. They were so far removed from the hip –hops misogynistic mating calls.
‘Said ooh it’s somethin’ about
Kinda woman that want you but don’t need you
Hey, I can’t figure it out
There’s somethin’ about her...
She got her own thing
That’s why I love her
Wont you come and spend a little time?’
On Nov 22 2010 Ne-You released his third album ‘Libra Scale’ .
The single ‘Beautiful Monster'debuted at no:1 in UK charts.
The second and third singles ‘ Champagne Life’ and ‘ 'One in a Million’ have also been released.
The videos are unique in the sense they follow the same story throughout with same characters , based around a sci-fi concept.
With its catchy beat and danceable tune it is no wonder this went straight to number one in several charts. It has a good video and a hummable riff.
'All my life, and the hereafter
I've never seen someone like you
You're a knife, sharp and deadly
And its me, that you cut into
But I don't mind, in fact I like it
I'm terrified, I'm turned on but scared of you...'
Single- One in a million
Catchy again, nice dance moves and watchable video too.
'All the girls dont matter
in your presence can't do what you do
There's a million girls around but I dont
see no one else but you'
indeed. The video evidence proves otherwise, Mr Smith.
One in a Million
Enrique- Do you know what it feels like
He is certainly not sick of churning out hit after hit, not only for himself but to an astonishing array of diverse artists such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey , Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias, Rick Ross, Mario Vasquez and even a Japanese pop group W-inds.
Ne-Yo's singing/songwriting collaborations
Hate that I love you
Take a Bow
Call you tonight
Do you know what it feels like
Let me love you
Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo - Hate that I love you
My favourite of his song writing/singing collaborations is the duet with Rihanna ’ Hate that I love you’ that is so haunting and beautifully sung. The lyrics don’t always jump out on paper but in song it is expressed so beautifully. Ne-Yo can surely see music.
‘That’s how much I love you
That’s how much I need you
And I can’t stand ya
Most everything you do, makes me wanna smile
Can I not like it for a while?'
Hate that I love you
Future Work & Films
Ne-Yo is currently touring and is also workign on his 5th Studio album tentatively called 'Love and Passion'.
He has also expanded his versatility and has been steadinly accumulating appearances in films such as 'Stomp the Yard', 'Save the Last Dance 2' and has appeared in an episode of CSI :NY as a hitman ( episode 7:14). He has contributed to soundtrack for some of these and most notably wrote and sang the song Never Knew I needed for Disney's Princess and the Frog.
He is starring in two forthcoming feature films Red tails and Battefield: Los Angeles.
He is currently also working on songs for Cheryl Cole, Sugababes, Alexandra Burke among many others . He was also co-writing the album for Michael Jackson before his untimely death. It is not sure whetehr any songs were already written for this work.
He has been working also been producing for the troubled actor Lindsay Lohan's debut album, Spirit of the dark.
He has his started own production company and label , Compound Entertainment with a view to introducing new talent.
The boy certainly never stops!
Ne-Yo- never knew I needed
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I hope you enjoyed this hub on Ne-Yo whether you were familiar with his work or new to his music.
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Thank you very much for your visit and do come again.
Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2011
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