By Anna Nathanson
Last Thursday Ne-Yo put on an album playback with a difference, previewing material from his forthcoming project ‘Libra Scale’, to be released in September.
It was so top secret that the invited audience had to hand in their mobile phones at the door, to avoid any of the tracks getting leaked prior to release. Some of them have of course already been getting radio airplay, such as the dancey ‘Beautiful Monster’ and the feel good R&B track ‘Champagne Life’ which is definitely worthy of becoming a potential future single.
Once everyone was seated, Ne-Yo appeared on stage, sat down and introduced himself, before revealing that the album is based on a short story that he had written. He then proceeded to tell the story, before playing the first track, which coincided with that bit in the story. After the track had finished, he carried on with the story, and then played another track. It was so cool how each track encapsulated the bit of the story he was telling, and after previewing the sixth track, the story ended on a cliff hanger, meaning that everyone would have to wait until the album lands to find out the conclusion.
At the end, there was a question and answer session with Ne-Yo, in which he voiced his thoughts on autotune, revealed that he is a big fan of Amy Winehouse and that the story behind his concept album was a metaphor for fame.
I even plucked up the courage to ask a question, and was really surprised by the answer. The question was; “You’re known as an iconic songwriter. Do most of the songs you write make it on the album or do you write a lot of songs and pick the best ones?” to which he replied that he wrote about 200 songs before selecting the best 12 to make the final album!
The intimate playback with Ne-Yo really was such a great experience, the tunes were banging and it was a real eye-opener on the man behind the hits. Make sure you listen to Ronnie Herel’s exclusive interview with the star on Monday night from 10pm on BBC Radio 1Xtra or online all this week at www.bbc.co.uk/1xtra.