Sorry dance fans, Ne-Yo is going back to R&B.
It’s not that he didn’t have a good time. He even thanks the dance community for “accepting him,” but the singer/songwriter – who doubles as Sr. VP of A&R at Motown Records – will be returning to his “roots” on the next album.
“As of right this second my main focus is my new album,” he tells Billboard’s The Juice of his upcoming full-length, due this summer. “It’ll be out probably towards the summertime, predominately R&B this time. I had a little stint with the dance music and all of that, which I had a good time with– and I love the audience, I love them for accepting me doing it –but I had to go home on this one. Had to take it back to my roots, and not to say that there won’t be one, maybe two songs on there that the dance crowd can get into, but the majority, the girth of the album, will be R&B.”
To set the mood for an R&B revival, Ne-Yo dropped a new mixtape, “3 Simple Rules,” on Valentine’s Day. The three-song release blends slow and mid-tempo cuts, playing out as a sonic lesson plan on love regulations. Another LP, “The Birth of Ne-Yo,” landed on iTunes last September, but turned out to be an unauthorized collection of his music that his label is in the process of getting removed, a rep confirmed to Billboard.
Still, it’s hard to deny just how good dance beats have been to Ne-Yo. His last studio album, 2012’s “R.E.D.,” was powered by the Europop-esque single “Let Me Love You” produced by StarGate, the Norwegian duo responsible for his other big hits “So Sick,” “Because of You,” and “Closer.”
“Let Me Love You” peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100, and No. 4 on the US Hot Dance Club Songs and Mainstream Top 40 charts respectively, yet the 31-year-old has been itching to get back to R&B for the last couple releases.
“I’ve actually been wanting to go back to my R&B roots for two albums now but [I didn’t], just from the standpoint of being a pioneer, leading people into whatever the next thing was gonna be,” Ne-Yo admits. “There wasn’t a lot of R&B cats doing songs at 120 beats per minute before ‘Closer,’ which I take full credit and responsibility for. That’s all good, but it was an experiment. You experiment with something, if it goes good, cool, but you never forget where you come from and R&B is where I come from.”
On an executive level, the Grammy winner is still grooming talent. His Compound Entertainment roster includes Adrienne Bailon, alongside newcomers Ravaughn and Trevor Wesley. While he’s working on music other than his own, there is a reason why it’s not out just yet: “I have a few artists under me right now that I’m putting together. I pray that the stuff will be next year, but at the end of the day, until it’s right, I can’t put it out. It’s gotta be right. I try not to be a perfectionist, I try not to be too hard on them but at the end of the day, it’s gotta be right.”
The pen behind records for the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Celine Dion, and more, expects nothing less than a 100 percent from his own artists. “If I know your potential I’m not gonna let you give me less than what I know you’re capable of.”