NE-YO: Evolution through Elevation

“There are feelings that are going on in my life that I’m still trying to figure out how to trim down to 3 minutes and 42 seconds,” says r&b definitive frontrunner, exceptional songwriter, Ne-Yo.
“There are feelings that are going on in my life that I’m still trying to figure out how to trim down to 3 minutes and 42 seconds,” says r&b definitive frontrunner, exceptional songwriter, Ne-Yo.

As for the feelings that the 24-year-old from Las Vegas has successfully trimmed down under 222 seconds, Ne-Yo has fearlessly left his lifetime in between the paper’s lines, telling passionate stories of sexy love and indescribable pain on the same self-assured playing field.

Ne-Yo landed his first songwriting credit back in 1999, writing music for the now defunct boy band trio, Youngstown. But it wasn’t until 2003 that he achieved his first Billboard chart appearance writing Marques Houston’s solo debut single, “That Girl” However, in 2005, Ne-Yo’s songwriting talents took immediate center-stage when he hooked up with r&b solo artist, Mario, for one of 2005’s biggest hits, “Let Me Love You.”

“Let Me Love You” held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine consecutive weeks and simultaneously held the No. 1 spot on every chart that mattered at that time.

Lightning struck a second time for the DEF JAM artist in 2006 when he penned his biggest hit to date, “Irreplaceable” for r&b triple-threat, Beyoncé. “Irreplaceable” held the No.1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks, cementing Ne-Yo’s position as the premiere songwriter within his genre. 2007 saw the release of his second solo album, Because of You, that peaked at No. 1.

To understand his writing style is to understand the man wielding the platinum pen that drips liquid gold. Get to know the 2007 BET male r&b artist of the year and Grammy-nominated Ne-Yo.

“Irreplaceable” was one of the biggest songs of 2006. Talk about the story behind these empowering lyrics that so many women gravitated towards.

The song “Irreplaceable” came from a situation that I saw happen with my aunt. I grew up in a house full of women; it was my mother, my sister, my grandmother, etc. So I actually saw the box in the closet, full of dude’s stuff, to the left. It was just a matter of pulling that memory up and writing the song.

Your most successful single as an artist, “So Sick,” was a rare breed of modern r&b music where everything came together from the lyrics, to the melody, to the accompanying track. Talk about how everything came together.

“So Sick” was produced by Stargate. When they played me the track, it took me back to an instance of solemn and guilt. The track took me back to the first girl that I ever fell in love, and the way that I really messed it up. I was stupid, listening to my friends in a situation when I should have been listening to my heart. I really believe that “So Sick” was the fastest song that I’ve written. It literally just poured out of my hands in 3 minutes.

Talk about one moment when you stood witness to the power of songwriting.

That one moment was the first time that I performed in Japan. It was a huge show, very large crowd. I don’t speak any Japanese, and maybe four people in the crowd spoke English. So it wasn’t like I could have witty banter with the crowd between songs. So I’m standing there looking at the crowd, and they are standing there looking at me. But the second that “So Sick” came on, it was like we spoke the same language. The crowd sung every word with me. The emotion on their faces showed that they knew what it was all about. It just goes to show that music knocks down barriers.

As a songwriter, what would you like our readers to know about Ne-Yo?

The one thing that I want the American Songwriter readers to know about me is that I’m not just an r&b songwriter, I’m not just a pop songwriter-I’m a SONGWRITER.



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