The US R&B icon born Shaffer Smith made a name for himself in the music industry, but after the decent success of his 2010 concept album, Libra Scale, Ne-Yo, as we all call him, is drifting away from the music genre that brought him fame and fortune. On his newest album, R.E.D. (Realizing Every Dream), he connects more with the soul and pop rather than with R&B. The trendy and fashionable singer released his fifth studio album last week and R.E.D. has already hit the charts, especially the British ones.
However, why this sudden change of music style, we ask ourselves. Well, perhaps Ne-Yo got tired of singing songs reflecting moods and feelings that wasn’t his, so he made R.E.D. to be about himself and no one else. To make sure he does the right thing, the crooner who used to pen hits for the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna and Mary J Blidge, joined forces with Aussie Sia Furler, Norwegian hit-makers Stargate, Scotland’s Calvin Harris, pop-country singer Tim McGraw and rappers Wiz Khalifa and Diddy. All these partnerships resulted in a solid and exceptional performance that will obviously bring some pop money.
Nevertheless, uniqueness is not a highlight of this album. Ne-Yo approached themes that most soul and R&B singers prefer to address in their singles, such as love and the downside of fame. The opener “Cracks in Mr Perfect” is about love, loss and the price Ne-Yo himself still has to pay for celebrity. He confesses he cannot love a single woman, be faithful and caring and altruist. “I’m a little irresponsible most of the time/ I’m a man of my word but only when I ain’t lying/ I say I’m not a hater but I hate to see you shine/ Especially if your shine is outshining mine/ I wanna be thankful but I keep running into dimes,” he sings.
Then, Mr. Perfect proves out to be a true ladies’ man, a modern Casanova, who cannot stop thinking about sex. On “Lazy Love,” for example, the crooner admit that indulging in lust affects his everyday life, while on “Jealous” Ne-Yo moans with a sultry voice that he is desperate for physical love, being jealous on woman’s dress because it touches her skin while he cannot.
But fortunately, not all of the songs are about his personal flaws. “She Is” has deep lyrics about a breakup, but it’s the country music influence that makes this song so special. Co-written with country music star Carrie Underwood’s frequent collaborator Luke Laird and having Tim McGraw’s vocals in it, this song will be a hit. Also, Ne-Yo proved that he can have other things on his mind beside women, and dedicated a song, “Alone With You (Maddie’s Song),” to his baby daughter.
To conclude, R.E.D. is an album that has something for everybody, it’s an album about Ne-Yo, it’s his truth and his lifestyle, it’s a lesson for every singer out there to follow his steps and reveal themselves to the public. Because, in the end, we have only two options: to love them or hate them. As Ne-Yo sings on the opening lines of the ’60s-soul-influenced first track, when the music goes off, “You gon’ love me for my honesty/ Or you gon’ hate me for being me/ Yeah, I’m sayin’/ One of the two is gonna happen.”
Ne-Yo - R.E.D. Album Cover
Ne-Yo - R.E.D. Track Listing
1 “Cracks in Mr. Perfect” - 4:56
2. “Lazy Love” - 3:16
3. “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” - 4:11
4. “Miss Right” - 3:49
5. “Jealous” - 4:07
6. “Don’t Make Em Like You” (featuring Wiz Khalifa) - 4:09
7. “Be the One” - 3:47
8. “Stress Reliever” - 3:35
9. “She Is” (featuring Tim McGraw) - 3:26
10. “Carry On (Her Letter to Him)” - 3:56
11. “Forever Now” - 3:41
12. “Shut Me Down” - 3:41
13. “Unconditional” - 4:38
Japan standard edition bonus tracks
14. “Should Be You” (featuring Fabolous and Diddy) Smith, Salaam Remi, John Jackson, Carlos Coleman Salaamremi.com 4:15
15. “My Other Gun” - 3:18
16. “Alone With You (Maddie’s Song)” - 4:58
17. “Let’s Go” (Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo) - 3:53
iTunes bonus track
18. “Burning Up” - 3:33
Target bonus tracks
18. “All She Wants” (featuring Young Jeezy & RaVaughn) - 4:44
19. “To Whom It May Concern” - 4:20
Released October 31, 2012
Genre R&B, pop, dance-pop
Producer Byron Gallimore, Andrew Goldstein, Chuck Harmony, Calvin Harris No I.D., Emanuel “Eman” Kiriakou, Luke Laird, PhatBoiz, The Bingo Players, Reeva & Black, Salaamremi.com, Harmony “H-Money” Samuels, Shea Taylor, Reginald Smith, StarGate, Jesse “Corporal” Wilson