Though he is already set to continue maintaining his writing talent for other artists (including writing for Beyonce and Whitney later this year), Ne-Yo is now signed to Def Jam and it's time for him to step up to the plate.
He is scheduled to release his aptly titled "In My Own Words" at the end of December which will include such gems as "So Sick" - a suave post-relationship song where Ne-Yo states how he's sick of hearing love songs and his current single "Stay" featuring Peedi Peedi.
MVRemix: How did the name Ne-Yo originate?
Ne-Yo: The name Ne-Yo came from a producer, his name is Big D Evans - he did "Brenda's Got A Baby" for Tupac back in the day and a bunch of stuff for the rap group Digital Underground back in the day. We work a lot and I guess I'm relatively fast in the studio. He said to me one day, he said, "Man, it's like you see music the way Neo see's "The Matrix." From that day on he just started calling me Ne-Yo and it stuck.
MVRemix: Was singing something that came naturally or were you taught?
Ne-Yo: Oh no, it was natural. Everybody in my family does something in music be it singing, rapping, writing, playing an instrument - I even got family that's on the legal side of the music business. Everybody in my family does something to do with music, so it definitely came natural. My mom's a singer, my dad's a singer, my sister's an incredible, incredible singer so I almost didn't have a choice in the matter. I was born and destined to sing I guess.
MVRemix: You penned Mario's "Let Me Love You" which was a huge success. Is all the material on "In My Own Words" actually written by yourself?
MVRemix: How did you obtain the opportunity to write for Mario and other artists like Mary J. Blige?
Ne-Yo: I met Scott Storch who produced "Let Me Love You," I met him in L.A. through a mutual friend we both share, her name is Teedra Moses - she's the only artist signed over at TVT which is the label of Lil' Jon, Ying Yang Twins, all of those people... He was doing stuff for her at the time - Teedra Moses - and I vocally arranged her entire album, so I met him through her and we clicked automatically. He was like, "Hey man, if you're ever out in Miami, come through." I just happened to be in Miami one week, tryin' to shop some stuff around for some other artists, called him up and went over there... Mario just happened to be there and he [Storch] just happened to be playing the chords. He was like "I'm just trying to put this together for Mario, what do you think?" So me and Cam Hoof, which is one of Scott Storch's writers, we penned down "You Should Let Me Love You" in 30 minutes.
MVRemix: Did you find it more challenging to make your own album than helping other accomplished artists with theirs?
Ne-Yo: Well it definitely gives me something to shoot for. I mean, nobody knew the Mario song was gonna do what it did - I can only pray that one of my own songs does as well as that one. You know what gets a little difficult? Writing for myself and writing for other people? Normally, especially lately, when I write songs for myself I tend to over think it a little bit. Trying to not say it the way I said it in this song, trying to not use that in this song because I already used that particular cadence for this person, so that's becoming a little annoying but I'ma work it out.
MVRemix: In an interview I did with The O'Jays, they criticized younger R&B singers for their lack of sincerity and emotion attached to their material through their age and a lack of experience. How do you feel about those statements?
Ne-Yo: In a lot of ways, I agree. To be completely honest with you, I don't listen to a lot of today's R&B because it doesn't make you feel anything. I came up listening to people like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, Lionel Ritchie, Billie Ocean, Phyllis Hyman, Anita Baker - people that when they sang, you felt something. Like the songs they were singin' made you feel something. It wasn't just something you heard and "Oh I like those drums," "Oh I like that beat." It wasn't that, it was like you almost didn't even need to know what they were sayin' - just the way that it's put together makes you feel something. People don't really do that anymore so in a lot of ways I agree. That's why with my album I'm tryin' to take it back to that. I'm tryin' to take it back to the way that it used to be done where you hear a song and it triggers an emotion. It don't always have to be about sex, it don't always have to be about money and women and cars and jewelry and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm tryin' to make a song that's gonna make you sad, gonna make you happy, a song that's gonna make you wanna punch a wall. I'm trying to make that type of music. Music for your emotions. Music that makes you feel as opposed to just listen to.
MVRemix: Tell me about the album.
Ne-Yo: To sum my album up in a few words I'd just called it real quality R&B music. The album is entitled "In My Own Words," I called it that because I wrote every song on the record. I have my own production company which is Compound Entertainment; we did a good half of the record as far as the production side of it. The rest of the record we used a lot of up and coming producers, really no big name producers. That was mainly because we wanted people to go get it because they enjoyed the music - they wanted to hear the music... Not because of the big name behind the song, they actually liked the song so they'd go get it for that reason. That's why we did it like that. Thirteen cuts, the first single is entitled "Stay," it's me featuring Peedi Peedi (Peedi Crack) who is an artist on Roc-A-Fella records. Yeah man, it's strong melodies, strong hooks. Like I said man, music that you feel as opposed to just listen to.
MVRemix: I very much enoyed "So Sick" - what do you listen to to try to deal with that painful period after a relationship?
Ne-Yo: Honestly nothing. I take that experience and I turn it into my own song. That's actually where "So Sick" came from, that's a true story.
MVRemix: How would you feel if "So Sick" became a post-relationship anthem?
Ne-Yo: I couldn't be mad at that at all. [chuckles] That'd be great, that's what I hope that happens.
MVRemix: What separates you from the many other R&B singers in your age bracket?
Ne-Yo: Every time I get asked this question I can never come up with a solid answer mainly because I don't set out to set myself apart from the other R&B artists that are out here. I do what I do and they do what they do. I get a lot of comparisons to Usher, which is the ultimate compliment because he's the best right now - who's better than Usher? What's better than being compared to the best? But at the same time I'm not tryin' to be the next Usher. I'm trying to be the first Ne-Yo. I don't really worry about what other R&B artists are doing because once you start worrying about what other people are doing, you lose focus on what it is you're doing. Instead of studying them and trying to find a way to not do what they're doing, I just do me.
MVRemix: Did you ever spend any time with Dame Dash?
Ne-Yo: I've met him in passing. I've never actually had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with him, but I've seen him once or twice in a couple of different places. We've introduced ourselves when we met each other every time we've seen each other, but nah, I haven't had the chance to actually talk to him yet.
MVRemix: Oh, okay. It's just recently Peedi Crack released a track called "Fuck Dame Dash" aimed at his former boss who also put him up in a home after getting out of prison... Any thoughts on that situation?
Ne-Yo: Well, you know what - you telling me right now is the first time I've heard anything about it. [chuckles] Peedi didn't mention it to me. I don't know, I guess that's old Roc-A-Fella beef, that really ain't got nothin' to do with me. I don't know.
MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"
Ne-Yo: You know what, I'd fight Usher.
MVRemix: Do you reckon you'd win?
Ne-Yo: [pauses] Mmm... yeah! Yeah, yeah, I think I'd beat him, yeah. I got youth and speed on my side.
MVRemix: Aside from the album do you have any other guest appearances or compilations you've been working on?
Ne-Yo: I'm about to do the soundtrack for the movie "Save The Last Dance Part 2," other than that, I've been doing stuff for Ruben Studdard, I've been doing some stuff for Tyrese, I've been doing some stuff for Jamie Foxx. As soon as she is ready I'm about to go in with Beyonce on her new one, Clive wants me to do some more stuff for Whitney. Done some more stuff for Mario since then. Did some stuff for Heather Hedley, did some more stuff with Mary J. Blige, I'm just keepin' it busy man. I'm about to get all over the place [interupting himself] Christina Milian! I'm about to go back in with her. Um, yeah... [chuckles]
MVRemix: Any last words for your fans or potential fans that are gonna be reading this?
Ne-Yo: I just wanna let the world know that Ne-Yo is a walking, talking, living, breathing melody. I am not a person that does music, I am music. Hopefully my album, "In My Own Words" slated for release in December, hopefully my album personifies that and I hope the world enjoys it.
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