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Ne-Yo Talks Schoolboy Q Collaboration ‘Run,’ Cheating & Ty Dolla $ign’s Talents [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

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Ne-Yo is familiar with the smoke and mirrors of the music business but he’s embracing reality on his new album, ‘Non-Fiction.’ The follow-up to 2012’s ‘R.E.D.,’ this sixth opus is the singer’s “return to the R&B realm.” While tracks like ‘Let Me Love You’ found him traveling on EDM’s soaring path, now Shaffer Smith is sticking to his roots and revealing some ugly truths along the way. People think he abandoned the genre that earned him three Grammys, but he’s quick to affirm the songs he’s creating will prove otherwise.

‘Run,’ produced by Salaam Remi, is proof of that. Ne-Yo tapped Kendrick Lamar’s right-hand man Schoolboy Q for the effort, which centers on the predatory nature of the opposite sex.

“It’s a song that’s kinda talking about that chick who takes pride in breaking up relationships,” Ne-Yo tells The Boombox. “She’s walking, talking, living, breathing temptation. It’s not a typical Ne-Yo song. When you hear this record from the beat to the way that I’m singing, everything about this song is a little different than what you’re used to hearing from me.”

The crooner is an R&B head — he wears the face of Michael Jackson around his neck after all — but that doesn’t mean hip-hop isn’t on his radar. “The reason that Schoolboy Q is on [‘Run’] is ’cause I’m a huge fan of Schoolboy Q and I knew that I wanted to do something with him. I just had to figure out what song was gonna make the most sense. The song is kinda dark and he has that kinda thing to his voice. I personally feel like it’s gonna be a favorite on the album.”

One of the more personal odes on the LP, arriving Nov. 11, comes in the form of an interlude that centers on infidelity. Ne-Yo made headlines earlier this year for ending his engagement with Monyetta Shaw, the mother of his two children. The news came as a surprise to many since they appeared to be blissfully in love. The songwriter admits he’s to blame for the split because he cheated on her. “I’m not a perfect being,” the 31-year-old states. As for the interlude, listeners may feel slighted since the lyrics don’t form a complete song but it was “too painful” for Ne-Yo to finish.

While crafting tracks for ‘Non-Fiction,’ Ne-Yo’s also been creating some of his own hazy moments in the studio. Like Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg before him, partaking in the sticky green has made the recording process rather stress-free. “It was honestly the most chill recording process that I’ve been through in my career, maybe ’cause I smoke weed now. I’m really relaxed,” the ‘She Knows’ creator reveals. But he does have some words of advice for his younger fans: “Don’t do drugs, kids.”

Smoking weed is a shared interest he has with rapper-singer Ty Dolla $ign, an artist he’s excited to see on the rise. “That dude will get on them keys and do something incredible in front of you,” Ne-Yo says. He’s also a fan of the music August Alsina and Tinashe are putting out.

Take a look as Ne-Yo opens up about his new album, ‘Non-Fiction,’ his tumultuous love life and the newcomers he hopes will change the game.

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