NE-YO is in a zone of fearlessness. It’s been over a decade since the singer-songwriter dropped his platinum-selling debut LP, In My Own Words, but after more than 10 million albums sold worldwide and three Grammys, the artist born Shaffer Smith is ready to introduce fans to a new and evolved side of himself.
Good Man, his seventh studio album, showcases his growth musically and personally while reacquainting fans with the sounds of classic R&B. “I just wanted to get back to love,” he says. “Nobody’s talking about love right now, I feel like we need to get back to that.”
The album, which was recorded over the course of a roughly a year-and-a-half, is “loosely inspired” by his marriage to wife Crystal Smith, and became a form of therapy for him, with the title track, “Good Man”, and “Apology” leading the way as the two most autobiographical cuts on the release.
“It just felt like the journey of a good man and what it is to be one again,” he explains.
Throughout his more than decade-long career, NE-YO has proven himself to be as powerful with his pen as he is the recording studio, and on stage. The Las Vegas native quickly became known as a go-to hitmaker, penning bangers like Rihanna’s “Unfaithful,” “Russian Roulette,” and “Take a Bow,” along with Beyonce’s 2006 breakup anthem “Irreplaceable”, and Mario’s sugary breakout single, “Let Me Love You.”
His first single, 2005’s “So Sick,” captured the emotional angst of heartbreak, soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and was certified quadruple platinum. Since then, NE-YO has racked up a collection of hits singles including “Sexy Love,” “Closer”, “Because of You,” and “Miss Independent.”
But the difference between now and then is his how much he’s matured, both privately and publicly. “That NE-YO was still very selfish,” he reflects on his younger self. “I was still very much a caterpillar. I’ve never been a complete animal or a complete piece of crap when it came to women, but I was definitely the person that wasn’t afraid to say what I felt, in order to get what I wanted.”
“It’s not something that I’m not proud of, but it is what it is,” he says. “You’re not so much concerning yourself with any other feelings, emotions, wants or needs, of anyone’s but your own. It was selfishness.”
Today, NE-YO considers himself to be selfless rather than selfish, and with Good Man, the married father of four is bravely owning up to his mistakes and championing and unabashed love for his wife, all while challenging fans to do the same in their own lives.
“I went from a caterpillar to a butterfly, in my opinion,” he notes. “Realizing the power of loving somebody fully and wholly, it’s powerful.”
With guest appearances from Bebe Rexha, Eric Bellinger, Romeo Santos, PartyNextDoor, Good Man plays is an expedition through the highs and lows of love, with an extra shot of candor.
“I want people to take the journey with me and see if they can feel what I’m feeling,” he shares. “It’s one of the most vulnerable states ever to — instead of pointing at other people — to look in the mirror and face your own demons and realize that a lot of the demons that you, you were pretty much the cause of. But after you do it, this feeling of this weight being lifted off your chest and you’re better for it afterward.”