Ne-Yo: R.E.D.

Posted November 12, 2012 by in



2.5/ 5


Genre: r&b, contemporary r&b, synthpop
Producer: Byron Gallimore, Andrew Goldstein, Chuck Harmony, Calvin Harris, No I.D., Emanuel "Eman" Kiriakou, Luke Laird, PhatBoiz, The Bingo Players, Reeva & Black,, Harmony "H-Money" Samuels, Shea Taylor, Reginald Smith, StarGate, Jesse "Corporal" Wilson
Label: Motown Universal
Format: Cd, digital download
Time: 51:10
Release Date: 31 October 2012
Spin This: Let Me Love You, Miss Right


"Let Me Love You" flickers with synth-disco aduation; most tunes reflect his allegiance to r&b


The tunes hardly stick, loses luster; "Cracks In Mr. Perfect" not a smart choice for an album opener

R.E.D. is more of a love letter to r&b fans, but lacks the inspiration of his past hits

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

R.E.D. is more of a love letter to r&b fans, but lacks the inspiration of his past hits

In the new norm of r&b, artists tend to peak and then slide off their bunker. Ne-Yo hit his stride with his debut album In My Own Words and then Because of You, selling albums in the triple-digits and nabbing three Grammys. His associations with production team StarGate and having his fingers associated with big hits for Beyonce, Mary J Blige and Rihanna maintained his creative pulse. But his ambitious concept album Libra Scale, something buffed up as a quasi-Thriller superhero saga, was highly ignored and seemed to alienate him from his growing fanbase. It failed to cross the 500,000 sales mark, the first blunder in Ne-Yo’s short, but sizable career. With Taylor Swift being the center of attention with Red is dominating the charts, Ne-Yo cooks up is own R.E.D., his first with Motown Universal. R.E.D., another endless abbreviation in the world of music, stands for “Realizing Every Dream’ (whatever that means).

Whether he’s jocking Taylor Swift or The Game, Ne-Yo is a man stuck in between fads. He aims for futuristic Michael Jackson grooves on an Euro synth-driven “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” and “Forever Now.” It works on him, only because it’s the current craze. Despite the Top 40 drizzle of “Let Me Love You,” the music aboard R.E.D. tries to reclaim Ne-Yo’s r&b roots, but hardly sounds as invigorating and insatiable as his earlier works. “Cracks In Mr. Perfect” itself is the wrong kind of processional  for an artist hoping to reclaim his r&b royalty. It’s a bland mid-tempo tune that hardly energizes his swagger, dropping him to a meager Musiq Soulchild. The Robert Shea Taylor slow jam “Lazy Love” and “Stress Reliever” presents him as a Usher-esque sex shooter, but its hallow sound limits the tunes from rising beyond its new-age Quiet Storm excess. “She say daddy feed me/And I know what she mean,” he coos on “Stress Reliever.” Somehow, baby makin’ music still remains the gateway into legit contemporary r&b, and he tries to wrap himself around R. Kelly magic. If you’re a fan of bunny-out-the-hat tricks, this might be your cup of tea.

Where Ne-Yo does make a bit of progress is when he returns to StarGate workouts, such as “Miss Right” and of course, the rave-induced “Let Me Love You.” The latter isn’t a crowning moment in Ne-Yo’s memorabilia, but it’s the most feasible way he can continue riding the gravy train of Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” without sounding like a sellout. Even the ready-friendly “Jealous,” produced by Phatboiz, sounds melodically pleasurable, especially when the opening bars and the fluttery falsetto sounds like a lift from Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love You’s.” Halfway into the set, Ne-Yo finds himself dueting with Tim McGraw on a tune that’s hardly country. Thankfully, “She Is” isn’t the disaster it could’ve been.

But R.E.D. falls into too many traps: “Be the One” easily recites the synth melody of Cobra Starship’s “You Make Me Feel,” while “Don’t Make Em Like You” goes wayward with the rebellious equalizer frenzies. Then there’s the obvious pivoting from hard r&b and Top 40 synthpop. His musical mentor succeeded at blending both worlds with Thriller, but that regimen is hardly revolutionary on here. It’s as if his glory days, containing contemporary r&b favorites like “Because of You,” “So Sick” and “Closer,” are a distant memory of the past. Thank God Ne-Yo has an appealing voice that’s saturated in Michael Jackson tactics and crossover smartness. It’s about the only consistent thing that spares R.E.D. from being turbulently bland.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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