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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Ne-Yo album upstages R&B artists

Rhythm and blues sensation Ne-Yo returns to the music scene with a revived sound guaranteed to satisfy old and new fans in his third album, Year of the Gentleman. The album title corresponds to his fashionable attire of designer suits. Although he maintains his signature smooth, R&B trademark, Ne-Yo stretches the genre as he mixes a more universal vibe to the sound.

Ne-Yo signed to Def Jam Recordings in 2006 and began the creative process of his first solo album, In My Own Words. The lead single, ?So Sick,? raced to number one on the Billboard charts along with his album. Ne-Yo then returned in 2007 to release his sophomore disc, Because of You, which earned him a Grammy award for best contemporary R&B album. With a total of nearly four million albums sold worldwide, Ne-Yo finds himself among the elite of today?s mainstream artists.

Before Ne-Yo exposed his own material to the world, he found fame by writing songs for legendary and current musicians: Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion and Usher all released Ne-Yo?s material on their own albums. He is responsible for Beyonce?s ten-week chart topper, ?Irreplaceable,? along with Rihanna?s No. 1 song, ?Take a Bow.?

In Year of the Gentleman, Ne-Yo attributes his inspiration to the Rat Pack, consisting of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. While on vacation in Europe, Ne-Yo wrote a bulk of the album to channel a more worldly sound for his audience.

The best track on the album, “Fade Into the Background,” finds Ne-Yo distraught at an ex-girlfriend?s wedding. He forces a smile on his face to wish her congratulations despite his longing to be her groom. Ne-Yo accomplishes a difficult task to create a song that captures the listener in the scene without visual aid.

His first single, ?Closer,? displays an unusual mixture of R&B and techno. The European techno feel gives the audience a dance hit to play in the clubs all over the world. Produced by Stargate, Ne-Yo takes a risk with this new sound, but his catchy lyrics helped rocket the song to the top 10 on the pop charts.

A hip-hop influenced slow jam, ?Miss Independent,? explains the qualities he prefers in a girl. The lyrics call out to the independent women around the world who maintain a job, finances and their personal lives. As a second single, Ne-Yo releases the best songs from the record that everyone can relate to.

Although every song is well-written, obvious album fillers ?Why Does She Stay? and ?So You Can Cry” fail to match the high quality music found throughout the album. On the final track, ?Stop This World,? Ne-Yo?s vocal ability lacks the strength to match the intense angelic music due to his low range notes.

Even with room for improvement, Year of the Gentleman contains more substance than most other R&B albums on the shelves today. Every song contains unique metaphors and strong messages that discuss subjects beyond the typical pretty girl. The album features music production from record producers Polow Da Don along with several tracks created by Stargate.

Without any guest artists on Year of the Gentleman, Ne-Yo depends on himself to create an album that outshines his previous efforts. With Ne-Yo at his peak, other R&B singers need to raise their game before they fade into the background of his continuous hits.

For more music reviews visit Jenn Boudreau’s Sept. 12 article, Band’s new sound supports identity.

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