Exclusive: Ne-Yo Talks New Album Non-Fiction, Rihanna, Streaming Issues, & More

Published: Friday 23rd Jan 2015 by Sam

*Pinned: Posts Resume As Normal Below*


Next Tuesday heralds the worldwide release of Ne-Yo‘s sixth studio album ‘Non Fiction’.

Easily the Grammy winner’s most R&B flavored effort in years, the set has been showered with praise from critics and has fared well commercially with singles ‘She Knows’ and ‘Time Of Our Lives’.

That Grape Juice caught up with the singer-songwriter recently and quizzed him on a number of topics including his return to Urban, his racier image, issues with streaming, and new projects from Rihanna and Janet Jackson.

Ever frank, the star delivered insightful conversation.

Check out our interview with Ne-Yo below…

Ne-Yo Shouts Out That Grape Juice

Sam (That Grape Juice): Hey Ne-Yo! Welcome back to That Grape Juice. We’re excited to talk with you today, as we’re looking forward to your new album ‘Non Fiction’. 

Tell us a little about what inspired the title?

Ne-Yo: The title was inspired by the fact that every song on this album is a 100% true story, or based on a 100% true story. This is a very honest album and it is the rebirth of storytelling. That’s an art form that has been lost over the last few years in regard to music. This is storytelling’s rebirth. I want people to actually sit down and pay attention to the lyrics of the songs, as opposed to getting into the incredible musical aspects of it. Half of the stories are mine, going over some of the things that have gone on in my life over the past couple of years. The other half of the stories belongs to my fans.

I’ve reached out via Twitter, Instagram, all that, asking people questions about their lives and their relationships, whatever the case may be. And the responses that really resonated with me turned into songs. So I’ve got to give a shout out to everyone who participated and put in a piece of this puzzle that is nonfiction..

Sam: On past project’s you’ve showcased more of the “gentleman”, while on this LP the singles have skewed more “risqué”. Was that a conscious decision? 

Ne-Yo: It was, it was. Every song on this album is or is based on a true story. But with the songs, this is the fault of getting bits and pieces of a full puzzle. Every song on this album is a piece of a larger puzzle. When you get the album and when you listen to the full source all the way down, it makes perfect sense what the song is. As far as the song, and what the neyo-she-knows-tgjproject is, the video and the whole nine, what people tend to not understand about a gentleman, is that a gentleman is a ladies’ man as well. A gentleman is a man who can appreciate the beauty of a lady, and that’s all aspects of a lady, be she a woman who works in an office or a woman who swings around on a pole for a living. There is beauty in both of those women. And a gentleman can appreciate the beauty in both. They’re not viewed for the same thing or in the same way but in their individual right, there’s beauty in both of them. That’s what I need people to understand. If people think I say something positive about a stripper or that I attend strip clubs, that that’s ungentlemanly, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s another reason why the name for a strip club is “gentlemen’s club”. There’s a reason for that.

Plus, I feel that people need to lighten up a little bit. I think sometimes people get a little caught up in their conception of what a gentleman is supposed to be. It’s not this perfect being who never attends strip clubs, or who never says a curse word, whatever the case may be. That’s not a gentleman, that’s a priest. And I’m not a priest. I’m not disrespecting any priests out there, but I’m not a priest. I’m a guy; I’m a guy that appreciates women and their bodies the same way that all guys do. It’s just that I come from a place of respect. I respect and appreciate them. It’s not just the misogynistic and animalistic, but there are definitely elements of that in me. I’m a man. That’s just what it is.

Sam: Sonically, this project marks a return of sorts to R&B in that its markedly more “Urban” as a body of work compared to a lot of your recent albums. Why is that?

Ne-Yo: It was.

I wanted for this album to be a reminder to my traditional R&B fans that R&B is who I am. It’s not a hobby for me, it’s not a job for me; this music is the reason that I’m here. This music is the reason I’m alive. This music saved my life. So I could never abandon R&B. I can never abandon R&B anymore than I could abandon my right arm. That’s what R&B is to me. It’s a body part, it’s part of who I am. It’s in my DNA. Just because I hop off the course every now and then to explore and travel and do new things doesn’t mean that I’m not going to come home. And I always come home, and R&B is my home. So I needed people to be reminded of that. I kind of view this album as that, while being conscious of the fact that I do have this very loyal, very huge fan base in the realm of EDM, pop and dance music. So there are some of those on the album, just to make sure every aspect of my fan base is set. I just needed the naysayers in regards to me and R&B to be shut up. That’s kind of what I set out to do, and I feel like this album does that.

Sam: Having enjoyed some of your most pronounced success with Pop and Dance tracks, would you consider your return to R&B in such a full on way risky given the current climate?

Ne-Yo: There is a risk in anything you do from a commercial standpoint. There is no guaranteed way to stay on top of what’s going to be

positive commercially. People feel like it’s a science, and to a degree it is, but when you take this science and apply it to people, because at the end of the day it’s the people and what they want, and what they’re going to go out and buy. There’s a huge variable in there that you can’t really account for, because you never really know what’s going to connect with people. You don’t know. Every other few months, a new trend pops up, and it’s a trend you didn’t see coming. Nobody saw the Shmurda dance coming, but that came. It just happened. You never know what’s going to resonate with the people. So you have to do what you should do, and put up a prayer to the Most High and hope that people agree with what you feel is dope. That’s all you can do as an artist. You go in and you do what you feel works, and hope everyone else follow suit.

Sam: As an artist that with established longevity, you’ve seen a lot of changes in the music industry. These days streaming is a red-hot topic (i.e. it’s affect on the charts, artists getting paid less). What’s your take on streaming – as an artist and as a songwriter?

Ne-Yo: I really don’t have an issue with the whole concept of streaming and what it is and what it means for music. I just want proper compensation to be had.

That’s the whole thing. I understand that the laws that are in place don’t really say much about streaming, because streaming didn’t exist when these laws were created. It’s already gone to Congress a couple of times with the folks at ASCAP about this exact matter, so that the laws that allow streaming are that everyone is compensated properly for whatever it is they do. Songwriters, so that songwriters are given what they deserve, so that artists will get what’s deserved, and the whole nine.

My thing with streaming is the same thing with my take on the whole downloading conflict; as long as it’s being done legally, as long as people are getting paid for their work, then I have no issue with it. It’s the folks that step out on the wrong side of the gate and do things they probably shouldn’t do, steal people’s hard-earned work. That’s when it’s an issue. It’s kind of crazy but I’ve spoken on this topic via my social media once or twice, and the response that I get kind of saddened me a little bit. It’s like people feel like I should just give them my music for free. I say, you don’t do your job for free, and I love my job, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s my job, and I’m supposed to be compensated for what I do. No, my music’s not supposed to be free. That’s not how this works.

But you’re not going to change people’s minds overnight. There’s always people out there who are going to go out and try to get it over. I’ll give a shout out to those people who still have enough integrity to purchase it, and to the ones that don’t, I guess it is what it is. Shame on you.

Sam: Beyond your own hits, you’ve penned smashes for the likes of Beyonce and Whitney Houston, are there any artists that you’re working with presently?

Ne-Yo: At the moment my focus is on new artists. I have new artists of my own that I’m putting the majority of my writing energies toward. One we’re really excited about is Sonna Rele – from the UK.

Sam: There’s a lot of talk about Rihanna’s new project. We hear you’re working on it? Can you tell a bit about that? What kind of sound?

Ne-Yo: Yeah, I’m not really allowed to say a lot, I promised to keep the integrity of the process and let her shock the people the way that she chooses to shock the people, so I’m going to leave it at that.

Sam: Ok, cool. Rounding up; there’s a lot of talk about Janet Jackson’s newkinopoisk.ru album and you wrote the title track to her 2008 LP ‘Discipline’ – which is one of our favorite Janet tracks. Is there any chance of you featuring on her comeback project?

Ne-Yo: I’m not sure that (the call) is coming yet. But that would be amazing.

Sam: It would!

You’ve doubled in acting and starred in films such as ‘Red Tails’. With all the talk of biopics, Aaliyah’s bio pick Whitney’s one this week, if you could play anyone in a music based bio, who would it be and why?

Ne-Yo: Oh man, I don’t know. I would have to get my acting chops up before I can take on something like that, but I would never want to be the reason why somebody’s memory was disrespected. I would love to play the Sammy Davis Jr. I know that that would take a whole lot of studying before I could do something like that, but ultimately if I had to choose, it would be him.

Sam: Cool. Final question. You continue to leave a mark in the music industry, but when all is said and done, what would you like your lasting legacy to be?

Ne-Yo: The fact that I could write great songs and beyond anything else I was an aware person. I think the most important thing about your artist personality is that people have to be able to relate to you as a person and I feel like going too far with the whole concept of the “celebrity” and this whole untouchable aspect of what a celebrity is supposed to be. I just don’t go with it. My fans know that I’m very tangible, they see me in the streets, run up on me, they want picture or an autograph, if I’m not rushing to an airplane or have to be somewhere fast, I always stop and take a picture and sign an autograph, because I understand that these are the people that make me who I am.

At the end of the day, I just want people to know that about me. I do what I’m doing because I love it, not so much for the financial gain, don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to be able to feed my kids, but that’s not motivating factor. The money is not the motivating factor and the reason why I do this. I do this because I love it, I do it because it’s therapeutic for me, it’s real. And I just want people to recognize that when they listen to my music and when I’m gone, if somebody would say something like that on my funeral, I wouldn’t be mad.

Sam: Awesome answer. Ne-Yo, thank you very much for your time. Best of luck with the project.

Ne-Yo: Thank you.


Ne-Yo’s new album ‘Non-Fiction’ hits stores on
January 28th



Your thoughts?

Comments 43

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  1. Beysus January 23, 2015

    Let her shock the people??? Lol you mean with how awful and generic it sounds… *sips tea*

    • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

      But isn’t this one of your favourate songs? Death @ Awful. Poor little ghetto ratchet Brit. It acts as if it has any good taste in music. Kii 😀


      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        Lol you’re just jealous that it’s got 100+ views and I’ve never actually said its one of my faves soooooooo….

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        100+ MILL even!!!

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        Wow. Your level of intelligence is up there with the best. On what stretch of the imagination would someone be jealous of YouTube views, especially jealous of someone as big as Beyonce? Lol!!! I just can’t with the idiocy. *Sips Tea* These have got to be the dumbest comments ever, but nonetheless not shocking from a fleahive. 😀

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        And I just can’t with you hating on the defining artist of the decade… *sips tea*

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        And I can’t with Rihanna being named “Best-Selling Digital Artist of All Time.” Oops 😀

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        And I can’t with that title being given to Katy Perry last year… Double oops…. *sips tea* 😛

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        And I so can’t with Queen Bey’s amazing 75M records sold verses Rihanna’s flopping 150M record sold. 🙁 I mean when wlil she reach King Bey’s numbers, especially Mariah with her awfully flopping 200M+ records sold? 😀

      • The BeyHIVe Cure January 23, 2015

        Drag her!!!

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        And I can’t with Bey selling more than 75 mill since those figures have been around for years… And we haven’t even gone on to DC’s sales… You tried…

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        *Will. And that’s #BeyhiveLogic people. 😀

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        Ànd you can get to f*** you little h**…

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        It is still clinging to DC sales. Now didn’t Billboard say DC’s sales cannot be added to Beyonce’s sales because they’re to different artists and two different entities, regardless of Bey being part of DC? Screaming at the ignorance and clinging. You better start googling babe. 😀

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        Without DC, Bey still wins… And you need to stop using Wiki…

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        But where can I or anybody else get they’re information? Please do tell me. I just can’t with you and your fear of Wikipedia. I mean, who doesn’t use Wikipedia? Lmfao!!!! 150M vs 75M. Awww, I know baby. *tilts head*

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        Poor deluded b****… Awwww….

      • XXX January 23, 2015

        Beyonce is way over 75 million records. Wiki has had her at that since I am Sasha era. Theres no way shes sold 30 million albums and only 40 million singles.

    • Dirty Laundry January 23, 2015

      @i stan for trash stil stalking all the Beyhive members I see.

      • Beysus January 23, 2015

        But what exactly does IT stan for??? Rihanna is invalid, so are most people who are not Beyonce…

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        A Kelly Rowland non-factor stan talking about trash? Lmfao!!!!! You just can’t join the conversation babe, you just can’t. Let me google her discography than I’ll get back to you. 😀

      • I STAN(D) FOR TALENT January 23, 2015

        *then. Oops, my bad. I don’t want you to start clinging to typing errors, since there’s nothing KR is better at than Rihanna, but you may continue to cling to Beyonce and side with the Fleahives. I think it’s very wise of you to do so. *Sips Tea* 😀

      • Dirty Laundry January 23, 2015

        @Beysus. It stans for trash like Rihanna and lives for Beyonce and the Hive on this site. Hence why I call it ‘I Stan For Trash’. The fool is clearly confused.

    • Rihanna #1 fan t January 26, 2015

      clap clap clap like yah don’t care ..
      Flexin while me hands up
      keep sippin yah tea ma !

  2. Lake Erie January 23, 2015

    Wow! It’s like wooow smh. Rihanna is “that chick” for real. Like real s***. Love her or hate her, we all are all waiting to see what she’s going to drop and from where lol. I know I am! I’m not a supper fan but she definitely did the damn thing with “pour it up”. That put the icing on the cake for me. 🙂 So let’s go! It’s still VERY early in the year and we know it’s coming! The question is “When”? (Grabs kettle corn pop corn, puts on shades) 😉

  3. DanYiel Teflon January 23, 2015

    “Ri-Whine-A Goatish sounds ANNOY ME!!

  4. Beyhulu January 23, 2015

    Some of u beehives are a disgrace to us. I don’t care for Rihanna but I wish her the best. But the attitude of hives on this blog shows there is some amount of concern about r8. Bey is unbothered, so why should we care. Navy enjoy your new era, I hope it lives up to the hype. Good luck guys

    • The BeyHIVe Cure January 23, 2015

      Thank you for being the mature BeyHIVe members in TGJ.

    • Slay_Hive January 23, 2015

      B**** you’re not in the BeyHive. stop it!

  5. Correctionville January 23, 2015


  6. mADMAX January 23, 2015

    of all artists ON EARTH. sam had to ask about rihana (whilst probably salivating)

    i see right through this H******** infested battered booty hole negroid.

    • The BeyHIVe Cure January 23, 2015

      Sam staaaaaaayyyyyssssssss pressed about Rihanna because he writes about her more than everyone else.

      • mADMAX January 23, 2015

        watch sam get pressed and delete my comment out of FEAR.

  7. darkhorse15 January 23, 2015

    Rihanna can’t sing at all. Her voice is pitiful. She has no business calling herself a singer. That’s like a paperboy calling himself a surgeon.

  8. #JACKIE (Cici da baddest) January 23, 2015

    Nobody is checking for PEEhanna. It’s not 2010 her time is up

  9. Mark111 January 23, 2015

    He always talking about bringing r&b back, yet all I hear is uis EDM crap. Ni99a bye! You haven’t even write a good song since Russian Roulette. I laugh when these artist like him, Elijah, Luke and Gags speek as if their the gods of music, yet are either has beens or non factors. Music speaks for itself.

  10. LDN Chick January 23, 2015

    Ne-Yo is tired

  11. ronnoc January 23, 2015

    I’ve never understood why this site rides Neyo’s d*** so hard. He’s in the running for the most basic/generic artist, along with Ke$ha and Pitbull.

  12. @RealMattPhoenix January 23, 2015

    Neyo’s best solo was miss Indipendant. His best writing was on kelsie hilsons song – knock you down

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