Ne-Yo Says It Was 'Refreshing' Working With Rihanna On New LP

'She's more comfortable in her skin now,' singer says of Rihanna's more mature work on Rated R.

While they did work together on her forthcoming album, Rated R, [artist id="2002414"]Ne-Yo[/artist] said fans shouldn't expect a repeat of his and [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna's[/artist] 2007 duet "Hate That I Love You" — the pair couldn't find the time to lay down a track together.

"No, unfortunately," he told MTV News. "Just scheduling and whatnot didn't allow us to do that. Everything that I did, I did with her specifically in mind — we just never got the chance to really get into that."

The pair, who worked together on her single, "Russian Roulette," did find time to collaborate other songs for the album. And although he hasn't received the list of tracks that made the final cut of the November release, he does love what the pair worked on this time around.

"We cut a few — I don't know exactly what was kept. I didn't know that ... she was going to drop 'Russian Roulette' until she hit me and told me," Ne-Yo said. "Normally we cut a song, we cut a bunch of songs and then her and her team will sit down and pick the ones they feel will make the most sense. I don't know what was kept, but we cut a bunch."

As for what fans can expect from tracks the duo recorded together, he says that the girl he went into the studio with this time isn't the same as the one he worked with a few years back. And he likes the artist she's becoming.

"I'll say this — I'll say that Rihanna is not in the same place mentally," he said. "She's more comfortable in her skin now. She's just realized some things about herself that she can explain better than I can. I'll say this: It's refreshing to watch."

Although he wouldn't get into specifics about the lyrical content of the songs, he did say that the singer has a lot of experience to draw from on this album. "I'm not gonna put words in her mouth or speak for her," he explained. "She's going through some stuff in the past year and she's got something to say and I think if you want to know what that is, you can go get the album or talk to her directly."

One of those experiences, of course, was ex-boyfriend Chris Brown assaulting her in February, and Ne-Yo understands why people might think some of the songs are about him. "I don't know. I mean, just going by the natural mind-state of people, yes, most likely [they'll think she's singing about him]," he said, coyly adding, "But I mean, that's part of the fun, isn't it?"