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The Rundown with Aryez



Libra Scale

 His stage name derived from producers comparing his way of seeing music to how Keaneu Reeves’ Neo saw the Matrix. Just look at the chart-topping artists Shaffer Chimere Smith- or better know as Ne-Yo has written hits for. Many of the Adult Contemporary and Top 40 format’s elite artists can vouch for that so there could just be some truth behind that comparison. Over his ten year span, Marques Houston’s “That Girl”,  Rihanna’s  “Unfaithful” and Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” are just a few of the singles that are credited to his catalogue. Since breaking out with his solo 2006 debut “In My Own Words”, Ne-Yo has become a new force in the genre of R&B to be reckoned with. His latest effort and the theme for “Libra Scale” were conceptualized from influences that were heavily drawn upon from his love of science fiction, his desire to complete different works as oppose to the usual standards of R&B music and, his appreciation of the works of Michael Jackson– hence “the scale”. In this edition of The Rundown, which way will the “Libra Scale” tip for his listeners?  

 The introductory track and the official second single of the album “Champagne Life” is an illustrious Rosay-toasting round that highlights the better things in life. The song begins with him remarking It’s a beautiful day, now let’s make it a beautiful night, setting the tone for his more mature audience. The Ryan Leslie (Cassie, Fabolous) produced “Crazy Love” featuring Fabolous is an eclectic tune that carries a smooth melody with strong lyrical content with him opening the first verse stating We’re a hurricane, so destructive in the way that we do/ a little bit insane, but she loves it just the same and me too. To soothe your slow ballad needs, he offers the sultry “Telekinesis” produced by Jesse “Corporal” Wilson. The production on this track may rely heavy on synthesizers for it to be a slow song, but male listeners will definitely be putting this in their decks to get their female counterparts “ready”. If you are a fan of Donell Jones, especially the “Where I Wanna Be” album, you’ll hear those sounds elements within this song. Vocally throughout the album, the audience can hear echoes of the late King of Pop Michael Jackson, but it is within the chorus of “What Have I Done?” that you may even have to remind yourself that it is Ne-Yo and not Jackson himself that sings it. This is a major comparison that can be argued, granted, but how he extends his notes and even his adlibs reflect vocal elements of Jacksons “Butterflies”, “You Are Not Alone” and “Heaven Can Wait” along with production elements from “Wanna Be Starting Something” (only slower).  Of course, no Ne-Yo album would be complete if the other members of his production team, Stargate didn’t bless the project wherein its first single “Beautiful Monster” can be ascribed to them with its techno-pop feel.  

 Ne-Yo does a tremendous job of expressing how and where his influences for this project are draw from again, which were striking out to show something different and using inspiration from the works of Michael Jackson. The setback from this project though lies in that by the time the listener is set in the mood for this album’s listening, it’s over. With only ten tracks this is an extremely quick listen. Typically, artists such as Erykah Badu may present an eight to eleven track album, but there may be two or three songs that will last seven to ten minutes. This lets the listener appreciate the fact that that artist took just a little more time to deliver a quality product, (or maybe they were just simply “feeling it” and the engineer decided not to press stop on the boards to catch the entire energy of the session).  He was averaging about twelve songs per album before this one, this his audience could now get disappointed because there just aren’t enough songs. Ultimately, Ne-Yo delivers when it comes to hearing something fresh and exciting but doesn’t bring enough weight to quite tip his “scale” in his favor to really pass for a must-have in your R&B collection. Besides, the season is in for the Sagittarius as well…




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