By Ithuteng Mashabela
He stole the hearts of R&B lovers across the world with his hit debut single “So Sick”. He tripped us with the bumping confession “Because of You” on his sophomore album of the same name. And now, Ne-Yo supporters and fans of good music have fallen hopelessly for his newest release, “Miss Independent” on his latest offering titled Year of the Gentleman. The secret must be in the name.
Ne-Yo credits most of the inspiration for this album to legendary music maestros The Rat Pack as well as king of pop, Michael Jackson, whom he considers the quintessential gentleman of his time. On “Nobody”, Ne-Yo mimics Jackson’s style right down to the high-pitched vocals and signature Wacko-Jacko huff-puff breathing – a little abstract, but interesting. The topic of the track – boy meets sexy girl on the dance floor at the club – is very similar to that of “Closer”, which peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart. Ne-Yo also slows it down quite a bit on this album, with most of the tracks being slow jams.
One such example is the romantic ballad “Why Does She Stay”. It does get a little soppy on “Lie To Me”, the lyrics of which are reminiscent of Mario Winan’s “I Don’t Wanna Know”. His experimentation also leads him in the direction of funk beats on “Fade Into The Background” and subtle rock undertones in “Stop This World”. All these elements come together to make an album that caters for all tastes and preferences.
This gentleman is soulful, sensuous and seductive in his demeanour and he knows just how to put music to lyrics. Three cheers and four stars for the Gentleman of the Year, and the Year of the Gentleman!Look out for the remix to “Miss Independent” – “She’s Got Her Own” featuring Jamie Foxx and Fabolous. Now this one is definitely for the ladies!