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The Music of Ne-Yo - The 'Ear' of the Gentleman


The Music Prodigy

For his first hit single, he sang:

And I am so sick of love songs

So tired of tears

So done with wishing

You were still here.’

Despite being 'so sick' , he has ironically gone and penned some of best love songs for himself and for other artists. And in the process has had multi platinum albums, No:1 hits and Grammy nominations.

He is one of the best singer song-writers to emerge in the recent times captured my interest and loyalty with a series of melodious, elegantly written love songs as well as catchy, captivating dance numbers.

I am astonished at his range and abilities. It is a rare talent that can write and perform. It is even rarer to see someone whose writing is so rich and his ability to collaborate with many current his artists is so sublime, even if you didn’t know who he is, you are certain to have heard his words through one singer or another.

Ne-Yo- So Sick

Neo sees Matrix as Ne-yo sees Music!

Neo sees Matrix as Ne-yo sees Music!

Ne-Yo is born

Anyone who has seen the Matrix will remember that scene in the claustrophobic hotel corridor. Neo Anderson, the self doubting ‘one’ who is convinced he is not the messiah everyone thinks he is, watches the two agents of destruction rush towards him.

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Suddenly it clicks. He could see them for what they are. He could see every alphanumeric squiggle that comprises the matrix. He could see the intricate details, the nuances, the cunning defences and the expansive construct that is the very ‘Matrix’ itself. He could see the truth.

Producer Big D Evans, who worked with Shaffer Chimere Smith, jr., was astonished at how much the young singer songwriter understood music. Smith could conjure up lyrics at a blink of an eye. He knew how the words fitted around the tune and vice versa. His musicality was nothing short of astounding. Big D, felt that Smith could ‘see’ music for what it is. He understood the nuances the catchy hooks and the emotion contained within so well. Big D teasingly called Smith ’ Ne-Yo’, as he felt the young singer saw music just like Neo Anderson saw the Matrix.

The name stuck. Shaffer Chimere Smith, became Ne-Yo and was launched into the music world.

Shaffer Chimere smith aka Ne-Yo

Shaffer Chimere smith aka Ne-Yo

Camden. Arkansas

Let me Love You - Mario

Let me Love You - Mario

Mario single- Let me love you - Written by Ne-yo

Biography & Early Career

Born on October 18th 1982 in Camden Arkansas, Shaffer Chimere Smith a.k.a. Ne-Yo, grew up with musical parents. His mother, of African-American and mixed Chinese descent separated from his African-American father when Ne-Yo was young. Both his parents were musicians.

Mother and son relocated to Las Vegas, where his mother hoped to seek new opportunities while bringing her talented son as a single parent.

While still in school Ne-Yo was in a band called Envy. They disbanded in 2000 and Ne-Yo started song writing for other artists before embarking on a solo career of his own.

Ne-Yo first broke into big time by penning the hit song ‘Let me Love you’ for singer Mario. The song went into Billboard chart's at No:1. The success of this song led to a contract with Columbia records to pen his own album. However, despite recording a full album he was dropped by his record label unceremoniously.

One of the tracks from this unreleased album called ‘That Girl’ was released by Marques Houston in his album MH and became a hit and Ne-Yo was soon writing songs for top billing.

He continued writing for singers such as  Christina Milian, Mary J Blige and Faith Evans.


Ne-Yo Discography

Year Album


In my own words


Because of you


Year of the Gentleman


Libra Scale

2011 ( forthcoming)

Love and Passion

In my own Words -album cover

In my own Words -album cover

In My Own Words

In 2006 Ne-Yo released his first album, ‘In my own words’. The single ‘So sick’ went into no:1 in billboard charts and so did the album which rapidly went platinum. Enjoying much radio play, this song established Ne-Yo as one to watch for.

Because of You

Because of You

Because of You

The Second Album, ‘Because of You’ followed in 2007 and also debuted at no:1 in the charts boosted by the success of the title track. However, the other tracks failed to reach top levels of the charts.

Because of you

Year of the Gentleman - album cover

Year of the Gentleman - album cover

The Year of the Gentleman

It was with his 3rd album that Ne-Yo hit the dizzy heights of superstardom. 2008 was, truly, The Year of the Gentleman. The album established his image of a suave rat-pack type suited gentleman, shedding his bad boy hip-hop image. Gone were the loose clothes and bling replaced by tailored suits and a trilby.

The album went multi platinum fuelled by such mega hits as ‘Closer’, ‘Miss Independent’ and ‘Mad’

The album was nominated forBest 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.




On hearing Closer, I was hooked. It has a beautifully melodic tune wrapped in a catchy beat and showcases his musical sensibilities.

‘Turn the lights off in this place

And she shines just like a star

And I swear I know her face

I just don’t know who you are

Turn the music up in here

I still hear her loud and clear

Like she’s right there in my ear...’


Miss Independent

Miss Independent

Miss Independent

Miss Independent, with its catchy riffs and suave lyrics firmly made me a fan. They were so far removed from the hip –hops misogynistic mating calls.

‘Said ooh it’s somethin’ about

Kinda woman that want you but don’t need you

Hey, I can’t figure it out

There’s somethin’ about her...

She got her own thing

That’s why I love her

Miss Independent

Wont you come and spend a little time?’

Miss Independent

Libra Scale

Libra Scale

Libra Scale

On Nov 22 2010 Ne-You released his third album ‘Libra Scale’ .

The single ‘Beautiful Monster'debuted at no:1 in UK charts.

The second and third singles ‘ Champagne Life’ and ‘ 'One in a Million’ have also been released.

The videos are unique in the sense they follow the same story throughout with same characters , based around a sci-fi concept.


Beautiful Monster

With its catchy beat and danceable tune it is no wonder this went straight to number one in several charts. It has a good video and a hummable riff.

'All my life, and the hereafter

I've never seen someone like you

You're a knife, sharp and deadly

And its me, that you cut into

But I don't mind, in fact I like it

I'm terrified, I'm turned on but scared of you...'

Beautiful Monster

One in a Million

One in a Million

Single- One in a million

Catchy again, nice dance moves and watchable video too.

'All the girls dont matter

in your presence can't do what you do

There's a million girls around but I dont

see no one else but you'

indeed. The video evidence proves otherwise, Mr Smith.

One in a Million


Beyonce- Irreplaceable

Enrique- Do you know what it feels like

Ne-Yo's collaborations

He is certainly not sick of churning out hit after hit, not only for himself but to an astonishing array of diverse artists such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey , Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias, Rick Ross, Mario Vasquez and even a Japanese pop group W-inds.

Ne-Yo's singing/songwriting collaborations

Artist Single


Hate that I love you


Take a Bow





Whitney Houston

Call you tonight

Enrique Iglesias

Do you know what it feels like

Leona Lewis

I'm you

Jennifer Hudson


Mario Vasquez


Marques Houston

That Girl


Let me love you

Rick Ross

Super High

Mariah Carey

Angels Cry

Hate that I love you

Hate that I love you

Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo - Hate that I love you

My favourite of his song writing/singing collaborations is the duet with Rihanna Hate that I love you’ that is so haunting and beautifully sung. The lyrics don’t always jump out on paper but in song it is expressed so beautifully. Ne-Yo can surely see music.

‘That’s how much I love you

That’s how much I need you

And I can’t stand ya

Most everything you do, makes me wanna smile

Can I not like it for a while?'

Hate that I love you

Uk tour poster

Uk tour poster

on stage

on stage

Future Work & Films

Ne-Yo is currently touring and is also workign on his 5th Studio album tentatively called 'Love and Passion'.

He has also expanded his versatility and has been steadinly accumulating appearances in films such as 'Stomp the Yard', 'Save the Last Dance 2' and has appeared in an episode of CSI :NY as a hitman ( episode 7:14). He has contributed to soundtrack for some of these and most notably wrote and sang the song Never Knew I needed for Disney's Princess and the Frog.

He is starring in two forthcoming feature films Red tails and Battefield: Los Angeles.

He is currently also working on songs for Cheryl Cole, Sugababes, Alexandra Burke among many others . He was also co-writing the album for Michael Jackson before his untimely death. It is not sure whetehr any songs were already written for this work.

He has been working also been producing for the troubled actor Lindsay Lohan's debut album, Spirit of the dark.

He has his started own production company and label , Compound Entertainment with a view to introducing new talent.

The boy certainly never stops!

Ne-Yo- never knew I needed

Vote for your favorite song!

Docmo's Love Songs..

Thank You!

I hope you enjoyed this hub on Ne-Yo whether you were familiar with his work or new to his music.

Please do leave comments below and share with friends and family on Facebook/Twitter etc if you think they'll enjoy this.

Thank you very much for your visit and do come again.

Much appreciated.


Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2011


Cat from New York on June 07, 2013:


I'm a little late for the party; but I couldn't resist when I saw the title of this hub. I haven't been listening to modern music so much lately... but I was when Ne-Yo was burning a trail. He has several songs that I very much enjoy and he sings with a passion that draws you in. Thanks for bringing Ne-Yo back to me.

Very thorough, by the way!

Serious thumbs up and many more!


msLarayne from New York, NY on October 18, 2012:

Nice! Ne-Yo is absolutely a superb writer and its always fun discovering what songs I like that he wrote. I feel like I find out about 1 once a month.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 18, 2012:

Happy Birthday to Ne-Yo!!! This tribute is quite a gift to him! WTG Docmo! :)

Mary Craig from New York on August 26, 2012:

I am embarrassed to say I didn't know Ne-Yo until I read this hub. You do such a great job of outlining his career, not to mention the videos you chose.

He has a nice, soft tone to his music and after reading this I can see he is very talented and ambitious. I have a feeling I'll be hearing more about Ne-Yo!

Voted up, useful, and interesting. Keep 'em coming Mohan.

Suzie from Carson City on August 26, 2012:

"Ne-Yo,".......I'm thrilled you wrote this hub, Docmo. The very first time I saw this outrageously talented young man on T.V......I was blown away. Now, you would have to know me, to know that no one would ever believe I fell in love with a young, contemporary R&B artist.

In fact, the first time I mentioned how much I enjoy his music and performances......2 of my sons were shocked silent....they were literally stunned...and then laughed because they thought I was kidding.......Truth is, I LOVE Ne-Yo. Guess my sons learned the old Mom has great taste after all!!

Thank you for this wonderful semi-bio and all the valuable info on my guy Ne-Yo!!

Havin a FUN Birthday?? Hope so! UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! & shared

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on August 26, 2012:

Ne-Yo and I are wishing you a Happy Birthday! (8/26)

Bobby from U.K on July 15, 2012:

This is a great hub! I didn't really know much about Ne-Yo but now that I've read this hub and can definitely say that I love his music.

D.Juris Stetser from South Dakota on June 11, 2012:

Docmo you've produced one awesome Hub! I can't believe I'm just now learning about this amazing young man. I really love his style, his talents are myriad and speak for themselves, and your presentation of his range of skills, background, discography,etc. is just plan masterful!!

The more I see of your work, the more I must seek new superlatives. Thank you so much, my friend. You've opened my eyes to something new and exciting!! dotti

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on June 10, 2012:

I love Hate that I Love You as well, it's so sweet and seems like one of those songs you hear at the end of a romantic comedy when the couple finally gets together. But it's really a sweet song. I was initially adverse to Ne-Yo but he's grown on me, my favorite solo song of his has to be Closer followed by Champagne Life, they are both great. You did a great job of outlining his career. Great hub!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on June 10, 2012:

Thank you Christy- Closer is one of my favs too.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on June 10, 2012:

Ne-Yo is so talented. My fave song is "Closer", I voted in the poll. Now I have all his best songs and videos in one place :)

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on June 10, 2012:

Thanks Nithya, appreciate your visit.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on June 10, 2012:

Thanks Linda- He's a great singer/songwriter who's collaborations are a delight too.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 10, 2012:

An eye opener into Ne-Yo's life. Great hub.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on June 10, 2012:

I learned a few more interesting facts about Ne-Yo which impress me even more! Superb tribute Mohan! Last month I discovered a video on YouTube of Ne-Yo and Tim McGraw...I can't remember the song, but they made for a wonderful duet! It's not too often that country music and R&B blend so well. In my opinion:)

epigramman on March 05, 2011:

...well because I am the reigning self-proclaimed master musicologist here at the Hub - lol lol lol - I am always 'up' for something new - as in the new vanguard!

Remember when Terence Trent D'Arby was all the rage in your country back in the 80's - and when I first heard Kate Bush for the first time back in 1978 (I was 20) I literally started to cry - and because I have a bit of Martian blood in me - I even remember when Mozart was on the top of the Pops ....... so that is a roundabout way of saying I adore 'everything' you do at your hubspace but as you can tell anything about music really turns my crank!!!!! Good for you for promoting new talent - that's really what music is all about - but that said I've spent a part of this evening with some of the old boys - (we always remember our roots) Neil Young, Ray Charles and Thelonious Monk - and now your fascinating hub and this most interesting new artist: Ne-Yo!

And as always you have done excellent research - so I leave here once more - educated, enlightened and entertained!!!!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on March 03, 2011:

@Rhonda, thanks for your sweet wishes, much appreciated!

@Fay, always grateful for your visit and comments!

@katie, it makes it all the more worthwhile when attention paid to the design is appreciated. I am really glad you enjoyed this hub!

@Amy, the Pleasure of enjoying something like a singer, a book or any artform is to spread that to others. It's an even greater pleasure when it is enjoyed and appreciated. Ne-Yo is worth the accolades for his beautiful voice and skills at songwriting. Thank you so much!

@thoughtforce, thank for the votes. I am glad I introduced you to new artist.

@Polly, Thanks you. there are other songs in his albums that may be to your taste. I only put up links to the popular ones he has also got many others in his repertoire.

@Pamela99, appreciate the visit and comments, Pamela, I too like his voice very much.

@Fossillady, yes 'closer' has got a great beat and as I say in the hub there are many songs we may have heard and liked but would not have considered who sang or wrote it. Especially since we are overwhelmed with the number of songs and artists out there...Thank you!

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on March 03, 2011:

I found myself being drawn into the lure of NeYo, The only song I recognized is "closer"! It's been so commercialized, cause it has that awesome beat. Never paid attention to who sang it. Not up with the latest I guess. He's great and so is your article!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 02, 2011:

This is an excellent hub and I love the way you laid out all the information along with the Ne Yo's most famous songs. I really like his voice. Voted/rated up.

Pollyannalana from US on March 02, 2011:

I don't know he would do a song I'd like but he does have the voice for anything, absolutely beautiful.

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on March 02, 2011:

Ne Yo was new to me but I like the videos very much. This hub is amazing, rich in content and appealing to the eye! Up and awesome!

Amy Becherer from St. Louis, MO on March 02, 2011:

Thank you for the intro to Ne-Yo, a most gorgeous and talented young man! I am a fan of "Closer", but had not seen any videos, which is a crime! He is so effortless and smooth and conveys so much expression with his sly, but sweet, sexy, face. Sorry, but it's impossible for me to vote on a favorite! I love them all. Thank you, Docmo, for a fantastic, comprehensive tribute that I am certain would meet with Ne-Yo's approval.

Katie McMurray from Ohio on March 01, 2011:

Oh my this is an amazing design this is so visually pleasing and a fantastic collection of Ne Yo The ear of the gentleman. Very impressive and sure to gain this artist more fans. I'm book marking and will be back to take it all in. This is a great work and a proud contribution to our community! :) Katie

Fay Paxton on March 01, 2011:

I have enjoyed this hub more than I can say. A great hub!

Up and awesome.

Rhonda Musch from The Emerald Coast on March 01, 2011:

A great hub. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Sweet wishes Rhonda

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