You can always count on Ne-Yo to make a hit song. Whether it’s R&B or Pop, he will find a way to get his voice on the radio. Need proof of that? He currently has two singles blowing up simultaneously on the charts right now and they sound nothing alike. His fun record record “Time Of Our Lives” has been a treat for his Pop fans while his ratchet collaboration “She Knows” with Juicy J has been confirmation for his R&B fans that he hasn’t forgotten about his roots. After struggling to find the perfect balance between the two genres in recent years, it seems Ne-Yo has found the formula to satisify everyone. YouKnowIGotSoul talked to Ne-Yo about his new album “Non-Fiction” which he claims is his return to R&B. We also talked to the singer/songwriter about his work with R&B producer DJ Camper and his new artist Candice.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your new album “Non-Fiction” is coming out January 27th. Introduce us to the project.
Ne-Yo: This album is the rebirth of storytelling. I’ve always been a storyteller and I’ve always been the guy who was good at entertaining that. I feel like the art of storytelling has been lost in music over the last few years. I genuinely feel that attention spans got a little shorter and it’s the microwave age now. I get all of that and I understand all of that, but I feel if you give somebody something worth slowing down and take the time to pay attention to, they’ll do just that. I’m actually banking on that otherwise it’s going to be a really sad situation.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What kind of growth have you experienced since your last album?
Ne-Yo: I don’t know if I’ve grown in the way of my sound, but I’ve definitely grown as a person. “R.E.D.” was a celebration of all the genres and lanes I’ve been allowed to dabble in over the years. So for this album, the growth is just new and innovative ways to get the music out. This is my first time actually allowing my fans to be part of the creative process. The concept of going to them via my social media and talking to them about their lives and relationships. I took those conversations and turned them into stories. I’ve never done that before, so that was a new way of doing things for me. As far as the sound, I’m always going to explore and I’m always going to be the guy to push the envelope on my sound and I’ll always try something else. That’s where all the EDM and Pop stuff initially came from. Even with all of that being said, R&B is my home and that’s where I come from. That’s the first genre I fell in love with and it’s the reason that any other genre that I’ve done, I was allowed to do because it started with R&B. “Non-Fiction” is a reminder to my R&B fans that R&B is who I am as opposed to it just being a hobby or something I would ever abandon. Nothing could farther from the truth. While at the same time, I’m making sure that every other aspect of my fanbase is satisfied as well.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You actually dropped a great EP (“3 Simple Rules”) last year on Valentine’s Day and it had one of our favorite songs of the year which was “New Love”. Would you say that EP is a good indicator of what your new album will sound like?
Ne-Yo: To a degree. When I said that I wanted to make this album predominately R&B, I didn’t want to go with just one specific type of R&B. The cool thing about R&B is that it has layers. There’s the more classic stuff with songs like “Money Can’t Buy” where it has that old school sound. The song “Integrity” definitely is a throwback and a nod to Marvin Gaye. Then you have songs like “Run” and “She Knows” that have today’s feel to them. It’s definitely R&B, but it’s what is happening with R&B today with the Hip Hop element to it. I just wanted to touch all bases of R&B with this album and I feel like I nailed it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Of course you have the new single with Juicy J right now and it’s blowing up on different formats on radio from Urban to Pop. That doesn’t really happen for an R&B artist anymore, so what’s been the key for that single to be having so much crossover success?
Ne-Yo: I’ve always banked on the song just being good enough. I feel like that song, once you get past whatever it is you feel about me or the fact that it’s racier than the stuff I’ve done before, the beat is super infectious and then when the bass drops, you’re sold. There’s that and then on top of that, the lyrics are dope and Juicy J’s verse is perfect for what this is. The whole thing just comes together perfectly and after a while, it’s hard to deny that. The song is just that good. It’s a good ass song, so I think that’s the reason it’s picking up the way it is. People are coming to grasps that it’s just a good song.