NEW YORK — He's penned hits like "Irreplaceable" for Beyoncé, and now Ne-Yo is trying to give a couple of more ladies his magic touch. Besides working on his next LP, the singer is writing songs for the soon-to-be former Mrs. Kevin Federline and Mrs. Bobby Brown.
"A little bit of both," Ne-Yo laughed recently at Sony Studios when asked whether his skills writing for women like Beyoncé and Rihanna come from him doing dirt himself or hearing horror stories from female loved ones. "Any slight insight I might have into the mind of a woman, I owe it all to my mom," he explained. "Growing up with her, dad checked out kinda early, so it was me, my mom, my sister, my grandmother and like three or four of my aunties all in the same house till I was about 16. Any experience they went through, I was right there with them. Be it breakups, meeting a new dude, I was right here listening to phone conversations.
"I will not say that I know anything about women, nobody really does, but I may have a little more insight than the average guy," he said (see "Singer, Dancer, Girl-Power Ally? Beyonce Brings Out New Side Of Ne-Yo").
Ne-Yo shares his insight with artists when he's writing songs for them, but sometimes his relationships with collaborators are long distance. "Some artists come to me and say, 'I love what you do, just do what you do. Try to write me a hit.' I try my best. If something comes out of it, it comes out. If it doesn't, it doesn't. It doesn't always happen. I'm about to start doing some stuff with Whitney Houston. I want to sit down and pick her brain and see where she wants to go."
Ne-Yo hasn't talked to Britney Spears yet, but has submitted several records for her next album. "I've already started putting some stuff together for her," he said. "Again, I have not had the opportunity to sit down with her personally, but I've been working close with her A&R people. They talk to her every day and are basically coming to me with information as far as songs she's looking for.
"One thing they told me was, 'No more songs about Kevin. She's got a 12-CD disc changer full of songs about Kevin. She don't need no more of those,' " Ne-Yo continued. "I was like, 'All right, cool.' It's come along nicely, I did about five or six for her so far. I don't know what she's going to keep, but it's coming along nicely. If I had to make a prediction, judging not just the stuff I've done, but the stuff I've heard she's done with other people, I think she's got a shot to come back. I really do."
Ne-Yo's new album is due April 24. He recently released the first single, "Because of You."