It would be unfair to call Ne-Yo just a triple threat.
In addition to singing, dancing, and acting, he is responsible for writing some of pop music’s big hits, not always for himself, but for the greats like Beyonce, Rihanna, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and many, many more.
“To this day, I have yet to write a song for myself as big as some of the songs that I’ve written for other people,” Ne-Yo told Carson Daly Thursday morning.
But he’s hoping that will all change with the release of his fifth studio album, R.E.D. His single “Let Me Love You” entered the Bilboard Hot 100 top 10 for the very first time just this week.
One of Ne-Yo’s first breakout hits as a songwriter was, ironically, Mario’s 2004 track “Let Me Love You” and he believes it was all meant to be.
“My current ‘Let Me Love You’ is a co-write with Sia. The thing is, the hook to the song is what she wrote and it was already written before I even got on the record…so the song was called ‘Let Me Love You’ before I even touched it. Of course I saw that this song was called ‘Let Me Love You’ and the other one was called ‘Let Me Love You,’ but you know what? I feel like it’s kind of ordained by God. It’s supposed to happen.”
R.E.D. stands for “Realizing Every Dream” and Ne-Yo has one dream he is hoping comes true for this particular record.
“Integration of my audience. I have two very, very big fan bases. I have my die hard R&B fan base. I have my die hard pop fan base and not to say that they don’t get along, but you know, it’s kind of segregated.”
The singer is aiming to appease all of his fans by including an equal amount of R&B and pop songs on R.E.D.
“The goal is to get my R&B fans to open up their minds a little bit, check out the pop records. Same thing with my pop fans, so that everybody comes to the Ne-Yo concert and just has a good time.”
Ne-Yo plans to head out on tour next March, starting overseas and then coming back to the States. He’ll have a lot of material to cover considering the album features collaborations with Wiz Khalifa, Calvin Harris, Diddy, and surprisingly, country star Tim McGraw.
“Me and Tim got together and did a song called ‘She Is.’ It’s basically my take on a country record. Like I can’t do a full-fledged country record, it wouldn’t make any sense, so it’s a country record with a bit of an R&B spin on it.”
He described songwriting at Tim McGraw’s Nashville home as one of the most incredible experiences ever.
“Faith Hill cooked me chicken!” he revealed. “We wrote songs and ate chicken! It’s the best thing ever. Beyonce never made me chicken! I’m not saying that she wouldn’t, but she probably would. Beyonce’s cool people.”
Since he’s been focusing on the album, Ne-Yo’s up-and-coming acting career has taken a backseat for the time being.
“There’s one role in particular that I had to turn down that to this day, it kills me I had to turn it down. Lee Daniels, who’s responsible for Monster Ball and Precious, he’s doing a movie right now and he asked me to play Martin Luther King in the film.”
He’s referring to The Butler, which stars Oprah, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., John Cusack, Minka Kelly, James Marsden, Jane Fonda, and countless other A-list stars. The movie doesn’t even come out until next year and is already an Academy Award favorite.
“[Daniels] wanted me to gain like 20-30 pounds to play the role. I couldn’t do that because he also wanted to start shooting right around the time the album comes out.”
R.E.D. goes on sale November 6, which is also Election Day. Ne-Yo proudly stated that he’s voting for “Barack O-damn-bama” and thinks it’s a great time to release his new material.
“I figured that people were going to be out and about doing important things and, you know, since you’re already out of the house, you might as well stop and the store and pick up some good music.”
Listen to Carson’s full interview with Ne-Yo below:
-Sarah Carroll, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles