MiddleChild: What it do?
Ne-Yo: What's going on man?
MiddleChild: Nothing much. I see you're ready to bring it back one more time for us.
Ne-Yo: Absolutely. I'm ready to try bruh.
MiddleChild: I see. Well this is the most time you have ever taken on a project. Since you came out in 2006, you dropped an album a year for us. So what made you take a little more time on this one?
Ne-Yo: Well I took '09 off because I wanted to expand the brand a little bit. Try some new things. Never would I ever step away from music completely. That's something that would never ever happen, but just for a minute I tried something new. I shot a couple of movies in '09. One of them is called "Red Tails", the story of the Tuskeegee Airmen. So look out for that maybe February of next year and the other one is called "Battle Los Angeles" and it's kind of like a Sci Fi aliens type situation and again that one will be out next year. So that was the reason I didn't put an album out in '09. Because of the fact that I caught a little of the acting bug in '09, I decided to try something different with this fourth album. I wrote a story called "Libra Scale" and all of the songs on the album are inspired by this story. If all goes well, this story will be turned into a mini movie that will be incorporated into the packaging of the album. So when you get the album, you'll get the DVD on one side and the CD on the other.
MiddleChild: So why is it called "Libra Scale"?
Ne-Yo: It's a question of morality. It forces the listener to ask themselves if weighed out on a Libra Scale that you had to choose between money, power and fame or love, which one would you put the most value on? So that's what the story is talking about and for the most part that is what the album is talking about. It emcompasses what it is when you first receive the money, power and fame and when you first fall in love. The pros and cons of both and then asking yourself that question at the end.
MiddleChild: Sounds deep. I guess I will see what I will choose once I get my hands on the album. As far as the packaging and the videos for the singles, will the videos tie into the movie as well?
Ne-Yo: The videos will definitely tie into the movie. What I'm going to do with the videos is they are going to be like branches off the tree that is the movie. The videos will tell a little bit of the story and then we plan on doing internet viral stuff that will tell a little bit of the story up until the album comes out. September 21st is what we're slated for and that will tell the entire story.
MiddleChild: Sounds like you got it all worked out. Of course you have been like on the forefront on all of your albums from writing to producing and the whole nine with this team you have assembled. As far as the new project, did you use the same team or since you branched out a little you reached out to some other people?
Ne-Yo: I'm a firm believer that if it ain't broke don't fix it, so I definitely worked with some of the same people that I worked with for the first three albums over the last five years. You'll definitely find StarGate on there. You'll definitely find some Compound producers on there. A couple of new names that you may not have heard of before... Daron Golf. He's very new to the production scene. He's actually the keyboard player in my band. He produced my urban single. I'm putting out two singles at the same time for this album. One is "Beautiful Monster" which is geared more towards pop and that type of thing and the other is called "Champagne Life" which is geared more towards urban and that type of scene. He produced the urban single. D. White is another brand new producer. Be on the lookout for him. He did a joint called "Jackpot". I worked with Ryan Leslie on some stuff... I'm sure you know that name. Like I said, StarGate of course. Chuck Harmony, which is one of my producers. So pretty much the same people with a couple of new names splattered here and there.
MiddleChild: When you go into a new project and you start to incorporate some new names... you know some artists get to a certain level and they act like they're scared to reach back to the up and comers who are hungry for it. What stood out about these new producers that made you want to take the chance on them for the fourth album?
Ne-Yo: Exactly that. Their hunger. No disrespect to any named producers out there, but I feel that once you get a certain number in your bank account you get a little comfortable. You know what I mean. You feel like "I don't gotta to try as hard because my name is XYZ and people are gonna check for it just because my name is XYZ.." I can't do that. I can't do that. I need somebody that this song getting on my album is going to feed their family for the next year or so and they are gonna put they all into it. That's the person I need to work with. I'm always going for what sounds the best. I'm not trippin off the name. I'm not trippin off what it cost. I need what's gonna sound the best. What's going to make the album the best it could possibly be and that's what I look for.
MiddleChild: I feel you on that. Well I been rockin with you since you dropped actually. I own all the albums and I actually let you get away on the last one. I didn't get my "Mirror" or "Say It" and I'm used to having that. You did however give me "Stop This World" so I forgave you. (both laugh) So seeing that you're telling a story with this album, will I or won't I get one of those type records for the fourth joint?
Ne-Yo: Yea. I did catch a little bit of flack from people for the fact that there was no "Mirror" or "Say It" type song on "The Year Of The Gentlemen", so we definitely made sure that we put one on this album. It's entitled "Telekenisis" and it falls right in that lane so I hope everybody enjoys it.
MiddleChild: That's what's up. And I'm not saying that's what I got to have in order to rock your albums, it's just that I got to have at least ONE track from my boy Ne-Yo on his albums that take it there.
MiddleChild: How are you feeling about the male side of R&B right now?
Ne-Yo: I mean I feel good about some people and then some people I don't. I ain't gonna name any names right now because I'm not trying to be messy. I don't need no enemies. I like what Usher is doing. I can't say that I love it more than "Confessions". "Confessions" is what I'm gonna gauge everything he does by and if it's not as good as "Confessions" then I don't have a problem with saying so. I don't feel that this album is as good as "Confessions", but that's not saying that it's not a good album. I love "OMG". That's a great record, but again it's not "Confessions" and that's how I feel about that. Shout out to Usher by the way. No disrespect. I'm happy that Trey is getting some recognition. You know Trey has been in the game pretty much as long as me and people are just not trying to pay attention to the fact that this dude can sing his ass off and he got chops. So I'm happy that he is getting some appreciation right now. Let me see .. who else. I love what Drake is doing on both sides of the game... on the R&B side of the game and the Hip Hop side of the game. He's toeing a line that not very many people can toe. Those who have tried have failed in the place where he is absolutely succeeding, so I'm happy for him and what he is doing. Of course everybody has Beiber fever right now. I like Justin Beiber. I ain't mad at him at all. He can sing, he definitely got some stage presence and he got personality. I like what he is doing. I hope that his mind is in the right place so that as he gets older, he makes the right decisions as opposed to the wrong ones. That's really all the people I can speak on or care to speak on as far as the male side of R&B and Pop.
MiddleChild: Well you brought up Usher and how you gauge all of his albums to "Confessions", is there any particular one of your albums that you gauge all of your work on?
Ne-Yo: Uhhh. Nope. I think I will pretty much leave that up to my fans. I think if I constantly keep trying to beat out what I done before that I'm never gonna do anything good enough because I'm such a terrible critic of everything I do. If I take one particular album or one particular moment and gauge everything off of that, then nothing else for me will never come out because nothing else will ever be good enough. So I just take every moment as a moment and let my fans tell me whats good and whats bad.
MiddleChild: Now as far as your stage show...I checked you out twice last year and I was amazed simply because with every album I have seen you on the road. You have really grown as a performer. I checked you out live in Atlanta at The Fox and also in New Orleans at Essence and I have no shame saying that you definitely stepped it up on the stage. I commend you for that.
Ne-Yo: Thank you. I appreciate that.
MiddleChild: How much works actually goes into your stage shows now?
Ne-Yo: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Especially this time around because it's such an intricate story. I can't go below the bar now. I've set the bar pretty high for myself with the performances we did for "The Year Of The Gentlemen" album so everything now... like that's one thing I will gauge off of. I will pick one show or one moment that was just great and say every show has to be as good or better than this right here. That's one thing I can definitely do that with because I can control that. I can't so much control what the fans are going to say about a certain song or whatever the case may be. That's all on them, but I can control what I do with my body and what my dancers do and what my band does and XYZ. Like I said the bar is set real high right now and we gon rise to the occassion.
MiddleChild: Cool. Well of course it's Black Music Month. Tell me how you take the work of everybody that has come before you... that has inspired you... that you looked up to... how do you take what all they have done into consideration to make Ne-Yo a better artist?
Ne-Yo: I think I'm one of the few people in this business who understands that if not for these people then I wouldn't be here. I 100% understand that so they get absolute respect and absolute homage from me. From the late, great Michael Jackson.. may he rest in peace to R. Kelly and what it is that he did for R&B. Prince and so on and so forth. I pay absolute respect and homage to these kats because like I say without them there would be no Ne-Yo. I feel that if more people understood where they came from then they would have a better grasp of where they're going.
MiddleChild: As we wrap up, I just want to shout you out for all the love you give and show all of these other artists with your pen. I consistently bump "Stay Or Go" by Monica. I know you're working with Melanie Fiona on her new project as well as Jennifer Hudson. Chrisette Michele and so many other people.. you definitely know how to tap into an artist and bring out some good stuff.
Ne-Yo: Appreciate it. Thank you.
MiddleChild: No problem. So we'll be looking out for the album in September, your two movie roles next year and the singles. Have you shot the video for "Beautiful Monster" yet?
Ne-Yo: No we haven't shot the video yet. You know there is a lot going into this and it has to tie into the movie so we gotta make sure we got the right director, the right treatment and all of that. So we'll be jumping on that video soon. And like I said be checking for "Champagne Life". That actually goes to radio tonight. So be checking for that also and we'll be shooting a video for that soon as well.
MiddleChild: Well of course we will do that. We got mad love for you at MiddleChild Promotions. Always have. From me to Terrell to Ced and Nfared. We all do. So we'll be watching for the album in September and ready to help you push through this era.
Ne-Yo: I appreciate it.
MiddleChild: No problem. Get at you later.
Ne-Yo: Take care.
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