The Grammy Awards may be about the competition, pitting artist against artist, but according to Ne-Yo, he's more of a unifier. He says that's the case even if there are some who want to slow the freshly minted Grammy winner's roll. He's looking at you, R. Kelly.
Ne-Yo — who won Best Contemporary R&B Album for his Because of You LP — spoke with MTV News late last week in Los Angeles about getting booted from Kelly's Double Up tour in November, after which his camp sued the tour's promoter in December for breach of contract.
"That's something that my management and my lawyers are doing," the singer/songwriter said. "Me personally? I've let it go. I'm not the hold-a-grudge guy. I'm not gonna see R. Kelly in the street and run up on him and swing on him. I'm not gonna do a dis record about R. Kelly. It was what it was. It happened. For whatever reason, he, I don't know, I guess felt threatened by me and kicked me off tour. Life goes on.
"I don't have a problem with the man," he continued. "It's apparent he has a problem with me — he kicked me off tour."
But if the Pied Piper isn't interested in Ne-Yo, the young R&B star certainly isn't fretting — there are plenty of other artists out there that do want his services. He recently fielded calls from Usher, John Legend, Ciara, LeToya Luckett and Janet Jackson, all of whom have requested songwriting contributions.
Ne-Yo said he couldn't divulge too much information on his clients, citing artist/collaborator confidentiality, but he said he and Usher discussed ways to make the fleet-footed singers sound more mature. "He's not the 'Yeah!' guy anymore. He's matured a little bit," Ne-Yo said. "So we have to find a way to balance his maturity with his fanbase, which goes from the youngest to the oldest."
Although Ne-Yo has his hands more than full, the Def Jam artist said he's quietly gearing up to start work on his third album, the follow-up to last year's Because of You. No solid foundation has been set so far for the project, which is still untitled at this point.
"I'm just figuring out where I want to go," Ne-Yo said. "Me being an artist, I can't do the same [thing] two, three and four times. I have to find the next thing. That's the current battle: trying to figure where to go now. I know I want to do R&B, but at the same time, I want to be the kind of artist that can do a duet with a John Mayer and [have] it makes sense."
"I have no idea [how it's going to sound]," Ne-Yo added. "But figuring it out is gonna be fun."