Ne-Yo: Non-Fiction

Posted January 29, 2015 by in r&b



1.5/ 5


Genre: ,
Producer: , ,
Label: ,
Genre: R&B, soul
Producer: StarGate, Dr. Luke, Cirkut
Label: Compound, Motown
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 66:47
Release Date: 27 January 2015
Spin This: "Time of Our Lives"


Besides Ne-Yo still settling in his neo-Marvin Gaye soulfulness, the Pitbull track seems to be the album's sole life saver


The disc is highly over-indulgent, lost of strong melody andout of sync with his the songwriting formula he's noted for

There’s not enough truth or brilliant music inside Ne-Yo’s Non-Fiction LP

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

There’s not enough truth or brilliant music inside Ne-Yo’s Non-Fiction LP

At one time, Ne-Yo was the king of urban contemporary R&B and the brains behind some of the most aggressive R&B to invade pop, even penning mega hits for Rihanna (“Russian Roulette”) and Beyoncé (“Irreplaceable”). But much has changed since his season of domination, including that of his own craft. Year of the Gentlemen may have been his biggest squeal, causing virtually all follow-up albums to slither into the abyss of forgetfulness. Libra Scale fell below expectations, so did R.E.D. And then his sixth solo album drops, Non-Fiction. It painfully follows suit.

Firstly the nineteen track layout – almost bearing the seismic requirements of a novel – is a bit outrageous and self-indulgent. It’s possible that the singer believes this is yet another contraption built to accommodate his ambitious concept album, Libra Scale. With all the cluttered interludes aboard, there is that heavy feeling. “Our story begins in a dark place, a place where you learned everything you wanted could potentially be the very thing that leads to your destruction,” Ne-Yo sings on the opening intro. And he is right. While trying to be organic, deep and colossally different, the magnetism of his former style and what now remains seems to fall apart. “Everbody Loves/The Def of You,” one of the earliest interludes on board, acts as a dramatic teaser to the world of neo-Marvin Gaye sophisticated soul that once engulfed his sound. More of that can be heard on “Integrity,” the slow jamming of “Take You There” and the T.I.-guested “One More.” He still sports a good and confident voice, but the music surrounding him is simply boring. This is light years away from the sing-a-long nature of his

When he tries to jump into bombastic territory, Ne-Yo sounds like he’s struggling to sound relevant. It’s worse when he chooses to play with musical styles that aren’t of his kind. He jumps into “Run/An Island” using some of the footnotes of The-Dream and the loftiness of Beyonce’s druggy self-titled LP. His rhymes sound slippery and blatantly silly: “Set ‘em up, turn ‘em out, knock ‘em down, it’s just that simple/Shawty make love like or a drug shotgun to the temple.” He’s no longer content in being the gentleman of yore, but prefers to dress up as a faint shadow in hip-hop circles. And it just might work on the naughty mid-tempo strip club teaser, “She Knows.” On this cut, Juicy J – the rhyme-spitting gangsta driving Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” – thrusts  Ne-Yo way too deep into murky waters. It almost taints his reputation as a clean-cut ambassador of urban soul: “I shoot in their face like that boy Reggie Miller/I killed that pussy like Jack the Ripper.” The song will get some attention, but it will mostly rely on shock value.

Thank goodness the disc sports “Time of Our Lives,” an album track snatched from Pitbull’s Globalization album. He reunites with his “Give Me Everything” partner on this cool disco-sprinkled offering. He’s only the hook man, which doesn’t do much to show off his creative juices. The rest of the album tries to replicate some of that magic (“Who’s Taking You Home”). There’s also the StarGate-produced “Coming With You,” which plays with drum samples of Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two,” an embarrassing Americana melody lift from Avicci’s “Wake Me Up” and the occasional legato of Eighties synths. But all of these events only rev, but never takes off. Ne-Yo, once a prized songwriter to the stars, is sounding more and more like a lost artist suffering with the worst of writer’s bloc. Songs like “Make It Easy” only show off more of that lackadaisical energy. It’s as if smart love is now officially a boring topic and that reality-TV shenanigans are far more important (“Religious/Ratchet Wit Yo Friends,” “She Said I’m Hood Tho”). This is not the most terrible R&B album to hit the streets. Give that award to Robin Thicke’s train-wrecked Paula. But Non-Fiction is a disappointment in the universe of Ne-Yo and clearly an embarrassment to his Gentleman era.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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