News And Notes From Backstage At The VMAs

Billboard goes behind the scenes at last night's MTV Video Music Awards in New York to get the latest from Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Method Man, Mario and more.

Billboard goes behind the scenes at last night's MTV Video Music Awards in New York to get the latest scoop from Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Method Man, Mario and more.

While finishing up his nationwide tour with fellow R&B vocalist Chris Brown, Ne-Yo is already starting work on his as-yet-untitled sophomore solo effort. "I started on the album like four days ago," he told "I'm literally two, maybe three songs in and looking for a direction. I don't even know what it's going to sound like yet." The new offering will follow this year's "In My Own Words" (Def Jam), which debuted atop The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The singer says he and the label are weighing the sensual ballad "Mirror" as his potential next single.

Miami rapper Rick Ross wasn't too surprised about his Def Jam debut, "Port of Miami," bowing at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. "Honestly, I knew it was a classic," he said. "I poured everything into it and I've been working almost two years so I knew it was gonna touch the people." New "Push It," the follow-up to the hit "Hustlin'," samples the "Scarface" movie theme "Push It To The Limit." "It's a real inspirational record and it's still touching the streets but it's doing other things too," says Ross, who is also releasing a clothing line called Ringleader and opening a clothing store in Miami. Meanwhile, the rapper is working on a collaborative album with his group Carol City Cartel, due in January.

R&B singer Mario is in the studio honing his third sol effort, due Nov. 28 via J. The album is titled "Mario Barrett - Effortless," after the singer's full name. "It's much more musical, melodic and I'm much more confident. And of course my voice has changed so much," the 20-year-old tells Mario says his tentative first single will be "How Do I Breathe." Guest collaborators include Nelly, Alicia Keys, Akon, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Scott Storch and the Neptunes. "It's high profile but more than that, it's just producers I respect that can help me put a great album together," he said. His previous effort, 2004's "Turning Point," has sold 1.2 million copies.

Rock act New Found Glory chatted excitedly about its upcoming fifth album "Coming Home," due Sept. 19 via Geffen. The set is led by the single "It's Not Your Fault." "The second single is kind of a toss-up because there are some arguments going on about three or four songs, which is a good thing. We have an arsenal of good songs," says lead singer Jordan Pundik. The band will kick off a nationwide tour Oct. 3 in Cincinnati, supported by Early November and Cartel, before heading to Europe.

Singer/actor Jesse McCartney described his sophomore album, "Right Where You Want Me," as "a melodic pop record." The set is due Sept. 19 via Hollywood, led by the title track. "Lyrically and musically, it's a lot more mature than 'Beautiful Soul,'" McCartney said, referring to his debut. "I'm anxious to see what the fans think. Without being biased, I think they're going to enjoy this one better overall. There are no collaborations but we may do a re-release and we may do something on somebody else's record."

Although Method Man criticizes the media in his Lauryn Hill-sampling single "Say," from his new album "4:21: The Day After," the Wu-Tang Clan member admits, half-jokingly, "Don't get it twisted. F*ck the media but I have an album in stores right now that I have to promote. It's a tight f*cking album from what I'm getting back 'cause it was leaked early and all the fans love it." In July, fellow Wu-Tang affiliate Masta Killa hinted to about a Wu-Tang reunion album. Method Man concurred, saying, "We're going to try to get back in to start. If the [group's recent] tour is any indication, then there will be another Wu-Tang album."

OutKast's Andre 3000, who sported space-age red boots at the VMAs, said he contributed to Snoop Dogg's upcoming album "Blue Carpet Treatment," and submitted tracks for Gwen Stefani's second solo project.

Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, who won the best dance Video for "Buttons," is hard at work on her solo debut. "We're putting together something you won't expect and I'm wrapping up the album as we speak," she said. The singer has already worked with producers Akon, Timbaland and Polow Da Don, who told that the two are "real good friends and have a good chemistry."

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