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Birth Name Shaffer Chimere Smith
Born 18 October 1979 (age 32)

Camden, Arkansas, U.S.

Occupations Singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor
Instruments Vocals, Piano, Guitar

Shaffer Duck Smith, Jr. (born October 18, 1979), better known by his stage name Ne-Yo, is an American pop and R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer and actor. Beginning his career as a songwriter, Ne-Yo penned the hit "Let Me Love You" for singer Mario. The single's successful release in the United States prompted an informal meeting between Ne-Yo and Def Jam's label head, and signing a recording contract.

In 2006, he released his debut album, In My Own Words, which contained the US number one hit "So Sick", as well as the top 10 hit "Duck". Then in 2007, he released his second album, Because of You, which contained the US top 3 hit, "Because of You". In 2008, he released his third album, Year of the Gentleman, which contained the top 10 hits "Closer","Mad" and "Miss Independent". His fourth studio album, Libra Scale, was released on November 22, 2010.

In 2009, Billboard ranked him as the 57th Artist of the 2000s decade. In addition to a successful recording career, Ne-Yo has amassed a catalog of chart-topping songs that he has written for other artists.

Early life[]

Ne-Yo was born in Camden, Arkansas, and baptized as Shaffer Chimere Smith. "Chimere" is a name originating from the Igbo language in Nigeria meaning "God's Deed" His mother is a mix of African American and Chinese descent, and his father is African American. Both of his parents were musicians. As a young child, he was raised by his mother after she separated from his father. In hopes of better opportunity, his mother relocated the family to Las Vegas, Nevada. While in the Las Vegas Academy, Smith adopted the stage name "GoGo" and joined an R&B group called Envy. The group disbanded in 2000, and Smith continued to write songs for other artists before starting his solo career.

Music career[]

1999–2005: career beginnings[]

Ne-Yo emerged on the recording industry scene as member of the Romford-based quartet Envy, which featured Chimna Orji as its leading woman. After the group disbanded in 2000, Columbia Records signed Ne-Yo, but the label dropped him before he could release his already-recorded first album. American singer Marques Houston happened to hear "That Girl", which Ne-Yo had planned to release as his debut single off his then-unreleased album. Houston re-recorded the song and released it as a single for his 2003 album MH. The release of the song led to Ne-Yo being recognized as a top songwriter.

For the next two years, Ne-Yo continued writing songs, some of which have not been officially released. He contributed songs to American singer Teedra Moses's 2004 album Complex Simplicity, Christina Milian's It's About Time, and the American boy band Youngstown, though all of which failed to give Ne-Yo much mainstream attention. Ne-Yo has also contributed songs to singers Mary J. Blige, B2K, Faith Evans and Musiq, among others.

A breakthrough came when Ne-Yo wrote "Let Me Love You" for American singer Mario. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and later stayed at the top spot for nine weeks. After the successful release, Tina Davis, former A&R representative for Def Jam Recordings, arranged an informal meeting with label head L.A. Reid. Despite not seeking a new contract at the time, then-CEO of Def Jam Jay-Z signed Ne-Yo to a new deal after he performed for the label's executives.

The stagename "Ne-Yo" was coined by Big D Evans, a producer with whom Ne-Yo once worked, because Evans claimed that Ne-Yo sees music as Neo sees the matrix. Though Evans started calling him this as a joke, the name stuck.

Relationship with Rihanna[]

When Rihanna was recording her debut album, Rihanna received a visit from Ne-Yo, in which they met for the first time, although never got the chance to collaborate on Music of the Sun. When production started, she came up with the idea of working with Ne-Yo in addition to working with Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist Sean Paul. With the help of songwriters such as Ne-Yo, Stargate, Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, she co-wrote three songs on the album. When asked about working with Ne-Yo, she stated,

He is one of the sweetest, sweetest people I've ever met, ever worked with. He's an amazing songwriter. I remember after hearing "Let Me Love You" [which Ne-Yo wrote for Mario], I was like, "Who the hell wrote this song?" And everyone was like, Ne-Yo, Ne-Yo, this kid Ne-Yo. And one day I was working in the studio with Poke & Tone on "If It's Lovin' That You Want" and Ne-Yo stopped by. So we finally got to meet, and he's like, "Yeah, we gotta do something," but we never got around to it on the first album. So for the second album, I was like, "You know what? I have to work with that guy Ne-Yo." And it made it a lot easier because he's on the same label I am. So we went into the studio and we started working on this song "Unfaithful." And it's one of my favorite songs on the album.


When production of Rihanna's second studio album A Girl like Me (2006) started, she considered working with him. She said, "So for the second album, I was like, 'You know what? I have to work with that guy Ne-Yo.' So we went into the studio and we started working on this song." Ne-Yo together with Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen wrote "Unfaithful", which Rihanna said was "new ground for her" as it is a ballad.

Work with Rihanna[]

Ne-Yo worked with Rihanna on the following song: