Shaffer Chimere Smith, better known by his stage name Ne-Yo, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. Ne-Yo gained fame for his songwriting abilities when he penned his 2004 hit "Let Me Love You" for singer Mario. The single's successful release in the United States prompted an informal meeting between Ne-Yo and Def Jam's label head, and the signing of a recording contract.
Ne-Yo's debut album was In My Own Words, released in 2006. The album was critically successful, reaching number one on the Billboard 200. It is certified platinum in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. Ne-Yo's first single "Stay", was released in September 2005. The song was a success on the R&B charts, but failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. His second single, "So Sick" was first released in November 2005. In the US, it was a commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and was also certified platinum four times in the US and twice in Japan. "When You're Mad" and "Sexy Love" were released afterwards from the album in 2006, reaching number 15 and number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. In April 2007, Ne-Yo released his second studio album, Because of You, and was the second number one platinum-selling album debuted on the US Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 2008 Grammy Awards. Ne-Yo's third studio album, Year of the Gentleman, was released internationally in August 2008. The album was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Album of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards, "Closer" for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, and "Miss Independent" for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. Year of the Gentleman has been certified platinum twice in the US, selling two million copies, also platinum three times in the UK and once in Japan. The third single, "Mad," peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Ne-Yo's fourth studio album, Libra Scale was released in November 2010. Though Libra Scale reached number one in the UK R&B Singles and Albums Charts, number 9 on the US Billboard 200, it sold less than the previous albums. Three single were released from the album, UK number-one hit "Beautiful Monster", as well the R&B singles "Champagne Life" and "One in a Million". Ne-Yo released his fifth album, R.E.D. in November 2012. His mainstream lead single "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)", released in July 2012, was certified platinum in US, sold over two million copies. Ne-Yo released his sixth album Non-Fiction in January 2015.
Shaffer Smith was born in Camden, Arkansas. His father is of African American and Chinese descent,[notes 1] and his mother is African-American. Both his parents were musicians. As a young child, he was raised by his mother after she separated from his father. In hopes of better opportunity, his mother relocated the family to Las Vegas, Nevada.
While in the Las Vegas Academy, Smith adopted the stage name "GoGo" and joined an R&B group called Envy, who appeared during amateur night on Showtime at the Apolloand on the MTV's The Cut (hosted by Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC). The group disbanded in 2000, and Smith continued to write songs for other artists before starting his solo career. The stage name "Ne-Yo" was coined by Big D Evans, a producer with whom Ne-Yo once worked, because Evans claimed that Ne-Yo sees music as Neo sees the matrix.
1998–2005: Career beginnings
At an early age, Ne-Yo emerged on the recording industry scene as a member of the Romford-based quartet Envy, which featured Chimna Orji as its leading woman. After the group disbanded in 2000, Columbia Records signed Ne-Yo, but the label dropped him before he could release his already-recorded first album. American singer Marques Houston happened to hear "That Girl", which Ne-Yo had planned to release as his debut single off his then-unreleased album. Houston re-recorded the song and released it as a single for his 2003 album MH. The release of the song led to Ne-Yo being recognized as a top songwriter.
For the next two years, Ne-Yo continued writing songs, some of which have not been officially released. He contributed songs to American singer Teedra Moses's 2004 album Complex Simplicity, Christina Milian's It's About Time, and the American boy band Youngstown, none of which, however, brought Ne-Yo much mainstream attention. Ne-Yo has also contributed songs to singers Mary J. Blige, B2K, Faith Evans, and Musiq, among others.
A breakthrough came when Ne-Yo wrote "Let Me Love You" for American singer Mario. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and later stayed at the top spot for nine weeks. After the successful release, Tina Davis, former A&R representative for Def Jam Recordings, arranged an informal meeting with label head L.A. Reid. Despite not seeking a new contract at the time, then-CEO of Def Jam Jay Z signed Ne-Yo to a new deal after he performed for the label's executives.
2006–2007: In My Own Words and Because of You
In early 2006, Ne-Yo released his debut album, In My Own Words, through Def Jam. Boosted by its popular second single "So Sick", the album debuted at number one on Billboard 200, selling over 301,000 copies in its first week on sale. During the same week, the single had reached number one on the |Billboard Hot 100. Later singles released were "When You're Mad" and "Sexy Love", which peaked at number 15 and number 7, respectively. The album has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for a shipment of over one million units.
His second album, Because of You, was released on May 1, 2007, and, fueled by its lead single, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 251,000 copies in the United States; the feat gave Ne-Yo his second number-one album. The first single from the platinum-selling album was the title track, which peaked at the number-two spot. Despite the success of "Because of You," later singles released charted lower and were unable to reach the Top 20. The album has been certified platinum by RIAA for a shipment of over one million units. In December 2007, Ne-Yo and the Goo Goo Dolls performed at a fund-raising concert for the then–presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama.
2008–2010: Year of the Gentleman and Libra Scale
Ne-Yo's third album, Year of the Gentleman, was released internationally on August 5, 2008. Speaking to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul, Ne-Yo explained the thinking behind its title: "To me Year of the Gentleman is all about a persona, a swag and a charm. I made an assessment of the music business. And, in my personal opinion, the essence of the gentleman is absent right now. Everybody kinda looks the same, everybody's kinda doing the same thing, everybody's kinda rude and full of themselves. Whereas a gentleman is calm, courteous, kind, charming... So that title basically represents me trying to lead by example, and showing these cats what it is to be a gentleman in this business still."
The album sold 250,000 copies in its first week in the United States, debuting on the Billboard 200 at number two. Reviews for the album were positive: in one, Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone magazine wrote that Year of the Gentleman is "actually a superb concept album about what a great boyfriend he [Ne-Yo] can be".
The first two singles, "Closer" and "Miss Independent," peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Album of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards, "Closer" for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, and "Miss Independent" for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.Year of the Gentleman has been certified platinum by RIAA for a shipment of more than one million copies. The third single, "Mad," peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On August 12, 2008, the New Kids on the Block released "Single," the second single from their fifth studio album, The Block, which is a duet with Ne-Yo. Ne-Yo included a solo version of the song on his album Year of the Gentleman.
In December 2008, Ne-Yo performed at the Kennedy Center Honors as part of the tribute to Barbra Streisand; he sang and danced to the song "Lover Come Back to Me," which Streisand recorded on her second album in 1963.
In 2009, Billboard ranked him as the 57th Artist of the 2000s decade.
On September 2, 2009, Ne-Yo released greatest hits album Ne-Yo: The Collection in Japan. The album was also released with a limited edition CD+DVD edition complete with the music videos of singles. It debuted at number four on Japan's Oricon weekly albums chart, selling 55,625 copies in the first week.
On October 8, 2010, Ne-Yo performed some of his songs from the new album at P.C. Richard & Son Theater in New York City, an event hosted by iheartradio. Ne-Yo made an appearance at New York ComicCon to announce that he was collaborating with Stan Lee for a Libra Scale comic. Ne-Yo also met with fans for pictures and autographs in the Cultyard of the ComicCon. The second and third singles released off of the album are "Champagne Life" and "One in a Million," respectively.
Libra Scale was released on November 22, 2010. It received critical acclaim from music critics, but was a commercial disappointment, debuting at number nine on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling less than all of his previous three studio albums. Ne-Yo stated: "The album is based upon this short story which basically follows these three characters who are forced to choose between money-power-and-fame versus love. Which in turn is why I've called it 'Libra Scale'. You know, its whole concept is based on that question of morality – that, if you weighed it all out on a libra scale, which one of those two options would you choose?". Libra Scale sold 112,000 copies in its first week. In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 11 on the UK Albums Chart, while debuting at number one on the UK R&B Chart.
On February 25, 2011, while on his tour in the United Kingdom, he announced his new album would be called Love and Passion and would be released in September, but this was proven false as the title was tentative. American rapper Fabolous said in an interview that he is planning a collaboration album with Ne-Yo as well. Ne-Yo has also written songs for Mary J. Blige, JB, Beyoncé, Monica, Alexandra Burke, Cheryl Cole and Willow Smith's upcoming albums. Ne-Yo starred in two motion pictures, the long-gestating George Lucas project Red Tails, released in early 2012, and Battle: Los Angeles, which was released in the United States on March 11, 2011. Ne-Yo has already finished writing songs for American singer and Roc Nation artist Alexis Jordan and her self-titled debut album as well as Jennifer Hudson for her second studio album, I Remember Me, which had a North American release on March 22, 2011. Ne-Yo appeared in the children's preschool show The Fresh Beat Band and was one of the few artists not to cancel appearances in the wake of the 2011 Japan earthquake.
In the spring of 2011, Ne-Yo collaborated with American rapper Pitbull and Nayer on his single "Give Me Everything", which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Ne-Yo his second U.S. number-one single, his first since 2006's "So Sick" and his first as a guest artist. Ne-Yo also revealed in an interview that he would like to collaborate with Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Drake on his upcoming album.
In January 2012, it was reported that Ne-Yo, along with his label imprint Compound Entertainment, had moved from Def Jam Recordings to Motown Records. He was also appointed Senior Vice President of A&R of Motown, where he would serve "...as a producer and mentor to the label's artists, as well as seeking out and signing new talent to the label." Ne-Yo was slated to release his fifth studio album, R.E.D. (as in "Realizing Every Dream"), on September 18, 2012. The album was initially titled The Cracks in Mr. Perfect.The album's first official single, "Lazy Love," was released on June 12, 2012 and peaked at number forty-two on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)," co-written by Australian singer-songwriter Sia, was released as the second single on July 31, 2012. Because of Kevin McCall's new album and the song Ne-Yo will be in, Love Time, is not yet released because he and his friend Chris Brown will make an appearance on Ne-Yo's R.E.D. album in the song called What I Do, which they all will be involved in writing the beat says Ne-Yo, who was interviewed by TMZ in New York. "I expect this to be a banger in clubs for the slow songs and to get Ne-Yo his first top 10 song in years," said Chris Brown, after a celebrity basketball game with Ne-Yo, Kevin Hart, and other celebrities in the month of July.
On August 29, 2012, Ne-Yo was one of the headliners alongside R&B recording artist Melanie Fiona, in the Summer Beats Concert Series, otherwise known as the MJ Birthday Concert, which was on what would have been the 54th birthday of the late American pop icon Michael Jackson which was sponsored by and live-streamed by Pepsi and Billboard. He performed a medley of hits, as well as performing "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Smooth Criminal," and "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" from Jackson's best-selling 1987 album, Bad, in preparation for the reissue of Bad 25 on September 18, 2012. The concert took place at Gotham Hall in New York City. R.E.D. was released in the United Kingdom on November 5, and in North America on November 6, 2012.
In 2012, Ne-Yo was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame which honors gifted songwriters who are at an apex in their careers and are making a significant impact in the music industry via their original songs.
2013–present: Non-Fiction and seventh studio album
In March 2013, Ne-Yo collaborated with Akon on David Guetta's single "Play Hard", from his 2012 album Nothing but the Beat 2.0. He also collaborated with Jessica Sanchez on her single "Tonight" from her debut album Me, You & the Music. The single, along with the music video got released on March 21, 2013. In April, Ne-Yo and Cher Lloyd collaborated on their single "It's All Good", which eventually was featured on Fruttare commercials. Around the same time, he and Celine Dion recorded "Incredible" for Dion's 2013 album Loved Me Back to Life. "Incredible" was released as a single in February 2014 and the music video premiered in June 2014.
On May 29, 2014, Ne-Yo announced his upcoming sixth studio album would be called Non-Fiction. That same day, he announced a new single, "Money Can't Buy." On September 16, 2014, Ne-Yo released the lead single from "Non Fiction" to mainstream radio titled "She Knows" featuring Juicy J. A few months later, Ne-Yo announced that the new release date for Non-Fiction was January 27, 2015. The album included collaborations with Pitbull and Charisse Mills. The album peaked at number 5 of on the Billboard 200 chart.
In July 2015, Ne-Yo collaborated with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike on a new song for the Tomorrowland anthem titled "Higher Place". In August 2015 Ne-Yo announced his seventh studio album with no title yet. However, he plans on the album to drop sometime in 2016. He also leaked a sneak peek of the potential lead single off the album titled "Hang W/" during a live recording in the studio. On September 6, 2015, Ne-Yo premiered two new songs off the album titled "Goodbye" and "She Leaving With Me" featuring Busta Rhymes.
Musical style and influence
Ne-Yo's music is generally R&B, while he also incorporates pop and hip hop occasionally. His musical influences include Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Babyface, Blackstreet and Usher. Ne-Yo possesses a light lyric tenor vocal style.
Songwriting and production
Ne-Yo frequently co-writes with Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen of the Norwegian production team Stargate. Ne-Yo met them in a hallway at Sony Music Studios in New York, and knowing the team produced R&B records, decided to collaborate with them. The collective's early works were tracks off In My Own Words, including "So Sick."
Aside from working on his own album, Ne-Yo also collaborates with several other artists. His works include: Rihanna's top-ten singles "Unfaithful," "Russian Roulette," and her number-one hit "Take a Bow," Mario Vazquez's "Gallery," Paula DeAnda's "Walk Away (Remember Me)," and Beyoncé Knowles' Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "Irreplaceable," which stayed at the top of the chart for ten consecutive weeks. He wrote the song "I'm You" for Leona Lewis's debut album Spirit, and is currently writing songs for her next album and for the debut album of fellow X Factor winner Alexandra Burke. He has also been working with Sugababes for their seventh album, with member Keisha Buchanan confirming that Ne-Yo had written a song called "No More You" for their album.
In 2010, he dueted with Mariah Carey on "Angel's Cry," a song on her cancelled album, Angels Advocate. Ne-Yo has also written songs for Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, Anastacia, Ciara, Corbin Bleu, Enrique Iglesias, and Dima Bilan. He collaborated with Lindsay Lohan on her new material, having already finished "Bossy", a pre-single for her new album Spirit in the Dark. In 2007, Ne-Yo confirmed that he had been contacted by producer will.i.am to work on what would have been Michael Jackson's new album. However, at the time of Jackson's death, Ne-Yo's collaborations with him had yet to move past the writing stage. In an interview in 2010, Ne-Yo said that, since Jackson's death, he had been confused as what to do with the songs, as he felt that selling them to another artist or even releasing the songs himself would be disrespectful to Jackson's legacy. In 2009, he wrote "Truth (Saigo no Shinjitsu)" for w-inds., the Japanese pop group.
Ne-Yo ventured out to open his own recording studio, called Carrington House, in Atlanta, Georgia. He also had started his own production company, Compound Entertainment, in 2007, and has hired several producers and songwriters in hopes of turning it into a full-fledged record label. It successfully became a label, and artists such as RaVaughn, Paula Campbell, Sixx John, Adrienne Bailon and Shanell are now associated with Compound.
In 2011 Ne-Yo was approached by Cartoon Network to help create an animated series. Ne-Yo announced that the show would be titled I Heart Tuesday and that he had created it for his sister. He also stated that he wanted to avoid having the show resemble the anime art style of The Boondocks due to the potential cost of the show's animation style.
In 2011, Ne-Yo appeared in an episode of The Fresh Beat Band as himself.
He starred as the Tin Man in NBC's musical telecast adaptation of The Wiz alongside David Alan Grier, Elijah Kelley, Queen Latifah, Common, Amber Riley, Uzo Aduba and Mary J. Blige. The musical telecast premiered December 3, 2015 as a three-hour event. For his performance, he received a Critics Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie made for Television or Limited Series.
In 2005, Jessica White, Ne-Yo's girlfriend at the time, gave birth to a boy, naming him Chimere after Ne-Yo's middle name. Though Ne-Yo believed he was the father, he later discovered the child was not his.
In June 2010, Ne-Yo told Ebony that he and his girlfriend, Monyetta Shaw, were expecting their first child together, a girl due early in 2011. Shaw gave birth early to daughter, Madilyn Grace Smith, on November 12, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Announcing the birth, Ne-Yo said of his first child, "I've been in love before but this feels like nothing I've ever felt... like I'm in love for the first time."
In September 2011, Ne-Yo revealed that he was expecting his second child with Monyetta Shaw. Shaw gave birth to a boy, Mason Evan Smith, on October 9, 2011.
In September 2015, the singer announced that he and Crystal Renay Williams were engaged and expecting a child. They were married on February 20, 2016. Their son, Shaffer Chimere Smith, Jr., was born in March 2016.
- On February 19, 2008, Ne-Yo was arrested for reckless driving and driving without a valid license after driving through Cobb County, Georgia in his 2006 Range Rover. It was reported that he was doing about 150 mph, 100 mph over the speed limit. On June 2, 2008, Ne-Yo pleaded guilty to the driving without a valid license charge and no contest to the reckless driving charge. He was sentenced to 24 hours of community service.
- On August 22, 2011, Ne-Yo was sued along with rapper Pitbull and DJ Afrojack by actress Lindsay Lohan, claiming that their song "Give Me Everything" referenced her by name in the lyrics. A judge ruled that Pitbull's use of her name was protected by the First Amendment and that Lohan was barely mentioned in the song. Pitbull then won the lawsuit.
- In My Own Words (2006)
- Because of You (2007)
- Year of the Gentleman (2008)
- Libra Scale (2010)
- R.E.D. (2012)
- Non-Fiction (2015)
|2006||Save the Last Dance 2||Mixx||Direct to video|
|2007||Nick Cannon/Wild 'N Out||Himself||Improv Comedy|
|2007||Stomp the Yard||Rich Brown||Film|
|2011||CSI: NY||The hitman||Episode 7.14 "Smooth Criminal"|
|The Fresh Beat Band||Himself||Special episode "Band in a Jam"|
|Battle: Los Angeles||Specks||Film|
|2012||Empire Girls: Julissa & Adrienne||Himself||Reality-Show|
|Red Tails||Andrew 'Smoky' Salem||Film|
|I Heart Tuesdays||None||TV, creator|
|The X Factor||Guest Mentor|
|Never Mind the Buzzcocks||Guest Host|
|2015||Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!||Secret Service Agent Deveroux||TV movie|
|2015||Empire||Himself (Guest Star)||Episode 2.05 "Be True"|
|2015||The Wiz Live!||The Tin-Man / John The Farmhand Man #1||TV movie (live)|
|2016||The Mindy Project||Marcus||Episode 4.19 "Baby Got Backslide"
Episode 4.20 "The Greatest Date in the World"
|2016||America's Got Talent||Guest Judge||Judge Cuts Day|
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