The ladies will be glad to hear that slick R&B singer Ne-Yo is back with his forth-coming album, Non Fiction, this year. It’s been a while since his 2012 release R.E.D, and since then Ne-Yo has been writing songs for big names including Rihanna, Céline Dion and Beyoncé. He’s also lent his vocals as a guest artist, most notably to tracks by Pitbull, Calvin Harris and David Guetta. At last, Ne-Yo has returned to release something of his very own; Money Can’t Buy (feat. Jeezy) is the first single off his sixth studio album and it showcases a suave and classy Ne-Yo, bringing back the gentleman that everybody is familiar with.
In this single we hear that Ne-Yo has returned to his R&B roots; a swingy, mid tempo number with heartfelt lyrics to match. The track opens with a little mini-intro, where Ne-Yo coos sexily into the mic and sets the mood of the piece. It’s clear that Ne-Yo’s been in the game for a while – his vocal expertise shines through as he croons about his appreciation for the ladies. As he switches between a full belt and a sweet falsetto, every note is spot on and sung with soul and vigour. As expected from an R&B track, the single is comprised of studio beats and loops, with string synths creating that romantic feel. With it’s slick choruses and echoey backing vocals, this is a smoother, classier version of R&B that we haven’t heard from Ne-Yo in a while. It sends fans back to the Ne-Yo we were first introduced to 10 years ago; the one who penned soulful love songs such as So Sick, and hadn’t yet started to experiment with dance and electronic music.
Jeezy’s rap game is strong in this track, his contribution to the choruses giving the track an extra edge. However, his actual rap verses take away the classiness of Ne-Yo’s message; Jeezy’s verses are full of swear words, and his innuendos come off as too direct. He’s got the rhythm right, but as for maintaining that classy mood which Ne-Yo had painstakingly built up? Ne-Yo comes off as the suggestive, suave gentleman, whereas Jeezy rumbles in as the thug cousin who just tells it like it is. As soon as Jeezy begins to rap about scaring away his girl’s issues with his ‘pistols’, the romantic credibility of the track drops so dramatically, its a wonder how Ne-Yo is able to pick it back up again.
Ne-Yo proves that he’s a man of many genres; he’s penned down club and dance tracks, but it’s clear that soulful R&B is his home base. But if you want to maintain that classy gentleman image, then lose the rapper who’s more suited to the street hip-hop genre. Nonetheless, it’s welcoming to listen to something that’s a little more deep and soulful. Money Can’t Buy is a strong first single coming from a long-awaited album; fans of his original tracks will be pleased.