R&B singer Ne-Yo "bored" by urban music

Sat Apr 19, 2008 2:24am EDT
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By Mikael Wood

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - As he prepares to release his third album in as many years, R&B singer/songwriter Ne-Yo says he is "a little bored" with urban music.

The genre has served him well, to be sure. His first two albums have both been certified platinum, and he has co-written such monster hits as Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," which spent 10 weeks atop the Hot 100 singles chart in 2006.

But "Year of the Gentleman," due June 24 from Def Jam, finds the 28-year-old Arkansas native -- real name Shaffer Smith -- venturing into "more worldly" territory.

"There's some stuff on there that sounds like something the Beatles might've done," Ne-Yo told Billboard. "There's some stuff on there that sounds like something Billy Joel might've done. I can't do just straight urban music no more, because to be completely honest with you, I'm a little bored with it. I'm just moving with what music excites me now."

An early preview does indeed indicate something a little different from traditional R&B: "Closer" is a Stargate-produced club track with pulsing strobe-light synths and a high-energy house beat that calls to mind Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music."

"So You Can Cry" sports a mellow, easy-listening vibe, with Ne-Yo making a priceless rhyme of "pity party" and "calamari." Guitars and cymbals figure prominently in "What's the Matter," which Ne-Yo likens to "a Beatles-style rock record."

But will the little girls understand? Def Jam wants to expand Ne-Yo's audience beyond its core of 16- to 24-year-old females.

"The records he's written don't just speak to young black girls," says Ashaunna Ayars, Def Jam's VP of marketing. "We're trying to build an adult audience that appreciates his music as well."   Continued...

<p>Ne-Yo performs at the 4th annual Peapod Foundation benefit concert at the Avalon in Hollywood, California February 7, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>