Last month, R&B singer Ne-Yo released a new single, “Good Man,” from his upcoming album of the same name that releases in June. In an exclusive interview with EBONY, the crooner spoke about his new music, being monogamous and learning from his mistakes.
EBONY: Why did you name your upcoming album Good Man?
Ne-Yo: I named the album Good Man because this album is kind of a snapshot of where I am now in my life. I am currently 38 years old, happily married for two years, I have three children and one on the way. My priorities have changed. This album is kind of a lead by example in regards to what it is to be a good husband to your wife, a good boyfriend to your girlfriend, a good brother to your brother and just a good guy to the world.
You know just what it is to genuinely give a damn about someone else’s well-being other than your own. Other than just you and yourself.
I feel like we’re right on time with this album because, you know, with sexual harassment case[s] here and rape charge[s] there, I feel like it is time for us as men to be reminded what it is that we’re supposed to do in regard to these women and how we’re supposed to respect them and treat them.
I’ve definitely made mistakes in the journey to get to where I am now. I feel like the plight of a good man is to know when you make a mistake, realize that you made the mistake, learn from said mistakes so that you don’t repeat said mistake. That’s that’s kind of where I am now and in my mind and in my heart. Everything about me kind of personifies that at this point.
EBONY: How much of that do you think comes with age?
Ne-Yo: Had you asked me this question maybe two years ago, I would have said that age plays a part but, to be honest with you, I don’t necessarily know that it does, so much as just maturity in itself.
I feel like everybody sees that old guy in the club. He ain’t old, he’s just a little too old to be in the club. With that being said, I don’t know if it’s age so much as it is just maturity and personal decision. You know what it is to be a good man is to make a decision within yourself. To decide that I’m going to give 100 percent of myself to this relationship or I’m going to genuinely love this person in the right way.
It’s a decision that you as a man have to make. Women will love you to death, but I need every woman on the face of the planet to know that there is no changing a man. You may inspire him to change, but ultimately he’s going to have to change himself. I feel like that maturity and experience are some of the things that help you make this decision.
EBONY: It’s been around three years since your last album, Non-Fiction. Other than starting a family, what have you been up to?
Ne-Yo: Well, I’ve been taking my writing to the next level. I feel like I’ve pretty much [mastered] what it is to tell a story in three minutes and 20 seconds, which is a great thing, but now I want to learn how to tell a story in two hours. I want to know how to write a screenplay or a script.
I love the acting thing; I have a love and respect for it. I’m actually a student of it right now. I’m learning how to be a better actor; but to be honest, my passion kind of lies behind the camera.
I want to write, I want to direct and I’ve been I’ve been learning how to do so over the last few years. You know, I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like I can write a pretty good script. I don’t know if it’s as good as I would like it to be before I give it to the world, but I’m definitely moving in the right direction.
EBONY: That’s awesome. To me, that just speaks about like longevity in this business.
Ne-Yo: This writing thing, it definitely will help in regard to the longevity of my career, but on the other side of it, I’m passionate about it. I want to learn how to do it; I want to do it well. It’s more about me further finding myself through art. That’s what it’s about.
EBONY: Let’s go back to what you said about a good man making mistakes and learning from them. What are you talking about in particular?
Ne-Yo: There’s one song on the album that I always go to when I’m asked this question. It’s a song called “Apology.”
I’m in this place now where I understand the importance of monogamy. Not just that kind of overwhelming feeling of obligation that comes with monogamy, not just that.
When you understand what monogamy is, it makes you want to be monogamous versus feeling like you have to be monogamous because that’s “the right thing to do in a relationship.”
I’ll be the first person that tells somebody, “Listen, if monogamy is not what you feel, then don’t be monogamous but also don’t be in a relationship if you’re not ready to be with just one person.” It’s really that simple.
You know, I’ve been that guy that would say whatever it is I felt like she wanted to hear to get what I wanted. I’ve been that guy before
I’m not proud of that time in my life, but on the other side of it, I kind of needed that time of my life to understand what it is to be to be monogamous and do right by your woman.
The unfortunate part of is that a lot of women had to get hurt in the process. A lot of hearts had to get broken, a lot of people had to get lied to in order for me to get to a place where I don’t do those things anymore.
This song “Apology” is basically me writing a letter of apology to every woman who had to get heartbroken in order for me to become the man that I am now. We can’t go back in time, I can’t fix what I did, but at the very least for helping me become this new person, at the very least these women deserve an apology.
EBONY: Have you offered a private apology to those women, or does the song speak for itself?
Ne-Yo: I feel like the song kind of speaks for itself. I don’t feel like a private apology is necessary. I wrote the song in a fashion that the women I’m speaking to know that I’m speaking to them.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.