On my off time, I love to talk about music, movies and everything in between. Just as I do with my friends, I had a nice conversation with R&B sensation and actor, Ne-Yo, a.k.a Shaffer Smith about his upcoming album, working on his newest film and life as a dual-threat in the media scene. Now, he’s just a man like anyone else, who happens to have sold hundreds of thousands of albums.
Getting things started, Ne-Yo described how he grew musically from being a child to today. A lot of his influences come from his mother, who he admired. As she moved around, both her and Shaffer were exposed to different types of music.
“I listened to a little bit of everything, my mom was a ‘melody person’ and it didn’t matter what the genre was,” Ne-Yo said. “My mom was my hero.”
When it comes down to it, Ne-yo says he has “four kings.” In no particular order, he honors and is influenced by Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Prince and Stevie Wonder. As a musician, he says “music is in his veins,” and no matter what movies he acts in, it will always come back to his music career.
“Acting is a hobby; it’s just another way of expressing myself,” Ne-Yo said. “I’m never gonna stop music until the world doesn’t want me no more.”
His newest movie is Battle: Los Angeles, a sci-fi thriller with Michelle Rodriguez and Aaron Eckhart. Ne-Yo plays a Marine in the movie, in which he actually trained in a Marine boot camp to act and feel like real soldiers. It even included waking up early and running 3-6 miles daily.
“I’m still a novice actor, so working with CGI and pretending something was there was a little tough,” Ne-Yo said. “When I was acting, I wasn’t an R&B singer, I was Shaffer Smith.”
His upcoming movie is his third theatrical performance, previously playing in “Stomp the Yard” and “Save the Last Dance 2.” This is the first movie however that Ne-Yo acts in a role that isn’t similar to his real persona. The movie is shot similar to a first-person shooter as Ne-Yo described it as a shout-out for “his Black-Ops video game fans.”
After talking about his movie, Ne-Yo also touched upon his distaste of the use of auto-tune in rap and R&B songs.
“Kanye and T-Pain can sing without it, but they choose to use it for a purpose,” Ne-Yo said. “But if it’s auto-tuned the whole damn song, take the training wheels off and just song.”
His fifth studio album will be released later this year and promises that it will be a lot less complicated than his last, conceptual album. The album will focus on melody and vibe more than a story. Ne-Yo has also been writing songs for current musicians like Beyonce Knowles and Justin Bieber.
“As a luxury, i get to sit down with the artists I’m writing for,” Ne-Yo said. “I listen to Bieber’s voice cracking because he’s going through puberty; it’s hilarious.”
To hear more from Ne-Yo, make sure to check out the new tracks he drops with Fabolous in the near future as well as see Battle: Los Angeles, which might play at the Hollywood at Penn State film festival this week. Ne-Yo is already proving himself as a versatile actor and musician and is only a matter of time before he dominates even more media.