.

Ne-Yo Releases His "Own Words"

Mario, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige songwriter steps up to the mike

February 28, 2006 12:20 PM ET

After writing songs for artists like Mario, Chris Brown and Christina Milian, R&B prodigy Ne-Yo is stepping out on his own with this week's release of In My Own Words (Def Jam). And he's off to a good start: The album's "So Sick" is currently Number Eight on the Billboard Hot 100.

"'So Sick' is a true story," the twenty-three-year-old Las Vegas native says. "It's about the first girl I ever fell in love with, and how I completely screwed up that relationship. A good sixty percent of the album is true stories."

The smooth ballad is representative of In My Own Words' classic sound. "I tried to go back to older, more traditional R&B," says Ne-Yo (born Shaffur Smith), referencing Stevie Wonder and Boyz II Men as influences. "The kind of music my mom used to listen when she was cleaning the house."

In My Own Words may be Ne-Yo's official debut, but it's not his first full-length recording. Five years ago, the then-teenager made an album for Columbia Records. After a contract dispute, he left, but the label kept the album and triggered Ne-Yo's songwriting career by having Marques Houston score a hit with the shelved album's "That Girl." Offers began rolling in, and -- after co-writing Mario's Number One single "Let Me Love You" -- Ne-Yo got to collaborate with R&B superstar Mary J. Blige on last year's The Breakthrough.

Despite his vicarious success, Ne-Yo was eager to get back behind the mike, and he's unapologetically possessive of his new songs. "I honestly wish that I could have kept 'Let Me Love You' for myself, but I was brought in by [producer] Scott Storch to write it [for Mario]," he says. "I'm proud of this entire album because it's been a long time coming. To receive the amount of love that I've been receiving just by telling stories of things that have gone on in my life is amazing."

Ne-Yo, who derived his moniker from The Matrix, will make his own big-screen debut in the upcoming sequel to Save the Last Dance. But he's not quite as excited about his burgeoning acting career. "It got a little tedious," he confesses. "It was my first time doing anything movie-related, so by Take Seventy-four, I was a little tired."

The singer's more eager to talk about making music -- his own. "On the outside, I'm being very calm and serene," Ne-Yo says, "but on the inside I'm like a four-year-old kid."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com