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Year of the Gentleman Part 1 of 4

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on April 28, 2008

Ne-Yo is what the entertainment industry calls a triple threat. He’s one of the most sought-after songwriters in music, as a recording artist he’s hard at work on his third album, and as an actor, he’s starred in Stomp the Yard. Find out his plans to change the R&B game in the May issue of 944 magazine, but check out what he had to say about working with other artists, that driving incident and his first big purchase with that first music industry check.

THAT’S MY JAM: Alright, thank you so much for taking the time to do this today. I guess we’ll just go ahead and start jumping into the questions. The first one that I had for you was — you are a very busy guy. You’ve got a lot of collaborations, you write a lot of songs, you’re also singing your own songs, you’re touring, you’re acting — how do you make time to be involved in so many projects?
NE-YO: Well, there’s 24 hours in a day, you just gotta make each one of them count. That’s pretty much what it is, you know? I have people that work for me that have mastered the art of putting together a schedule. Without these people I think my world would definitely fall apart. So, yeah, I thank God for these people.

Alright. Well I know you’re probably devoting a lot of time right now to your next album. Do you have a title for that yet?
Yes. The title of the next album is Year of the Gentleman.

Year of the Gentleman. What’s the theme behind that?
Year of the Gentleman is basically about me trying to bring back what it is to be a gentleman within this game of R&B. Now days, you know, you look at the R&B guys and the rap guys and everybody looks alike. You really can’t tell one from the other, whereas back in the day, you know, you go back as far as Nat King Cole, a little closer to the Temptations, you know, the Rat Pack, people like that, you couldn’t get on stage if your suit wasn’t right, if your shirt wasn’t pressed, if your tie wasn’t straight, you know what I mean? You had to get dressed to the nines to step foot on that stage and even call yourself an entertainer. I don’t see that in R&B anymore. I don’t see that in music, period, anymore to be completely honest with you. You know, everybody’s jeans [are] hanging off their ass and their tennis shoes are untied. You know, it’s just, that integrity just isn’t in R&B anymore in my personal opinion, so this is me trying to bring it back to what it is to be the coolest guy in the room without trying to be the coolest guy in the room, you know? The whole “never let ’em see you sweat” kind type swag. This is me trying to bring that back.

You recently said in an MTV interview that you want to do R&B, but you also want to be the kind of artist that could do a duet with John Mayer and have it make sense. How have you been trying to expand your appeal outside of the genre?
I mean I’ve always had it within me to do it, but I knew with my first album that it wouldn’t have made any sense to go that route. You can’t introduce yourself as, “Hi, I’m everybody.” You’ve got to introduce yourself as one person and then as people get to know you then you open up these different facets of your personality, which is pretty much all I’ve been doing from the first record to this one now. The first record I knew I wanted to do a traditional R&B record because, again, in my personal opinion at that time, the R&B that was out was very much hip-hop-based. It wasn’t the R&B that I grew up listening to, so I tried to bring that back. The second album, you know, I had moved around a little bit, I had become a little bit more worldly, I had experienced a few different things and I wanted to put that into the music. Even as far as asking people to open up their minds a little bit for records like “Angel,” records like “Sex with My Ex,” you know, just records where I was going other places, as far as it not being traditional R&B. This third album I’m actually going to open up their minds even more, where the sound is definitely a lot more worldly to where if somebody’s looking for a straight urban record, this one might go over your head a little bit, you know what I mean? You’re definitely going to have to open up your mind and expand and get ready for some new stuff, new things from me if you’re gonna enjoy this album, you know? Well, I mean — let me take that back. I honestly don’t think it’s going to be that difficult, you know, cause I’m not making black records, I’m not making white records, I’m making good records, I’m making music that feels good regardless of whether you call it R&B or pop or whatever. It’s still good at the end of the day. That’s the main goal for this album.

OK. Do you think your listeners are ready for that change? That path you’re going to take them on?
I like to think that I have the kind of fans who know me to the point where they know that I’m an artist, and as an artist I can’t sit still. I can’t be stagnant, I can’t, you know, do the same thing over and over and over again. You know, I’m aware of the fact that there’s a general sound that people look for from me, so I’ll never steer to far away from that sound, but you gotta know that with every record I’m gonna grow and going to try something different with every single record.

Your latest single “Closer,” I’ve read some stuff, some reviews about it, and they say it’s kind of a hybrid hip-hop, R&B, and kind of a club record. Coupling that with the fact that you had wrote Janet Jackson’s latest song, “Rock With U,” are you kind of making the move into dance music?
Well, I mean, I spent a lot of time in Europe last year and that’s pretty much where the inspiration for “Closer” came from, that’s where the inspiration for “Rock With U” came from. So yeah, I mean, it’s just a matter of mastering that feel and trying to bring it over here, you know? I’m not the only guy trying to bring it over here, but that’s our version of trying to capture what it is, what that European feel is.

OK. And just journalistic integrity aside, I love “Rock With U,” by the way. That’s a great song, it’s one of my favorites on that album, so I’m glad that you wrote that.
Thanks, man, I appreciate it.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of “Year of the Gentleman.”

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