Ne-Yo is a renaissance man. One day he’s singing, writing and producing songs for any number of popular artists. The next, he’s at home eating cookies with his twenty-month-old daughter, Madilyn and nine-month old son, Mason. A day later, he’s filming a movie. And he’s about to get even busier as he gears up to release his newest album, R.E.D., an acronym for Realizing Every Dream. Lucky us, he had time to chat with EBONY about everything in his color spectrum.
EBONY: What does Realizing Every Dream mean? Break it down for us.
Ne-Yo: Initially I had another title for the album, I was going to call it The Cracks in Mr. Perfect. [That’s because] as an artist you’re almost not allowed to have a bad day. The one day you do, you’re an a******. I’m a person first, everybody goes through [challenges,] but as an artist you have to be what your fans want you to be at all times. Then I looked back on that [way of thinking,] and it was just a way for me to complain about life [when] I don’t have anything to complain about. So, Realizing Every Dream was me stepping outside of my situation and realizing that just about every dream [of mine has been] realized. This album is more of a celebration of the fact that I’m blessed and highly favored.
EBONY: Are there any dreams still on your bucket list?
Ne-Yo: There are a lot of things I haven’t accomplished yet. I have three Grammys [and that’s] a beautiful thing! But Stevie Wonder‘s [Grammys number] in the twenties; he’s reached double digits. I’m trying to get there. I’m slowly but surely making my way into the acting world. I would love to, at the very least, be nominated for an Oscar or an Emmy. That’s another dream.”
EBONY: Did you write everything we hear on R.E.D.?
Ne-Yo: Just about. I don’t normally work with other writers.
EBONY: How does it compare to your previous albums?
Ne-Yo: If I’m doing what I’m supposed to, [my fans are] supposed to hear a little growth on every album. The one album I’ve ever done that I wasn’t 100 percent proud of was my last [album.] That’s only because I didn’t get to do exactly what I wanted. I guess the universe felt it, because that’s the album that sold the least. It just went way over everybody’s head.
EBONY: Musically speaking, who is on your radar?
Ne-Yo: I’m digging everything that’s going on right now at Cash Money. They definitely have a movement. Wayne is a businessman. He’s an artist. Wayne can do whatever he wants to do and he says, ‘love me or leave me alone.’ I love that about him.
EBONY: Are you working with any new artists?
Ne-Yo: Two in particular come to mind. RaVaughn Brown, [who is] signed to Columbia Records through [my own company] Compound Entertainment. Her stuff is very [much like] SWV’s second album. It’s the perfect fit. She sounds incredible. And then there’s Adrienne Bailon. It’s pretty much a no-brainer. She’s a beautiful girl. She’s talented.
EBONY: What’s on your mind regarding today’s R&B?
Ne-Yo: I remember when R&B was the coolest music. That’s [just] not the case anymore. I feel that it’s because people have lost sight of what R&B means. It’s rhythm and blues. What happened to the songs that make you want to cry because they remind you of that old girlfriend or boyfriend? Those don’t exist anymore. I would love to get with Chris [Brown] and Trey [Songz] and others trying to do this R&B thing, and just get it right.
Jorian L. Seay is a writer for EBONY Magazine.