September 21st! Engrave the date on your brain, for the release of Ne-Yo's fourth album.
Ok I need to explain this to you because this isn't your normal album or album review. Along with the album there are an accompanying six videos. So let's set the scene, the album is like a script to a mini film or theatre play. Set around three super heroes. The three super heroes start off life as garbage men and are given everything they have ever wanted, luxury apartments, flash cars, jewellery and as many women as they want as long as they are willing to be superheroes and guard their city from evil; but there are rules with the super powers, the key one being they can't fall in love with any of the women they meet or sleep with. With the plot so far?
So enters the track 'Champange Life' the story of these guys getting all they ever wanted. The track is quite simply one of Ne-Yo's most soulful R&B tracks to date and definitely the most soulful since the 'real heads' anthem 'Can We Chill'. This sublimely produced mid beat monster is one of THE tracks of 2010. Snares, baselines, keyboards all melt together behind the usual stunning vocal performance and song writing skills of Ne-Yo. This track from a purist's view is one of his best to date.
The lead character and leader of the three super heroes is obviously played by Ne-Yo. The character after some time realises that actually for all they have money, cars, jewellery and women his life feels empty. In a club one night they walk in and are mobbed by women, like normal, but there is one table that doesn't take much notice of them. So they beckon these girls to their VIP area, they all run over except one. To impress her, the lead character uses his superpowers to float a bottle of champagne and a glass over to her and pours her a drink. Unimpressed by this she gets a waiter to take it back over with the message, thanks but no thanks. He walks over, sits with her and asks her why she's not interested, to which she replies let me see the real you, not all this rubbish and you might just have a chance.
Next, enters the track 'One In A Million' this track is more edgy, yet still retains a smoothness and slickness to it, lyrically it explains how different she is from all the women he has ever met. The story telling in the song is nothing short of amazing. Inevitably he starts to fall in love despite all his friends efforts and their own unwritten rule of only ever being able to spend 48 hours with any woman. He goes way beyond that with her. Hence the song 'She Is', okay let me explain, this song will do for Ne-Yo what 'Irreplaceable' did for Beyonce and what 'Take A Bow' did for Rihanna oh yeah and of course he just happened to write both of those as well. Its' a stunning acoustic ballad that every woman will melt over and Ne-Yo will simply just add even more to his ever growing army of female fans because of the lyrics and Ne-Yo being so in tune with women lyrically.
He falls in love with her and this is where the main rule comes in, when they become intimate and he makes love to her, it sends her completely crazy her eyes become diamonds and she gains all his super powers plus she becomes a medusa type character because if you look into her eyes you lose your mind. Convinced he has done this on purpose she becomes his arch enemy and sets out destroy everything close to him and everything around him.
Now follows the song 'Beautiful Monster', the most dance based track on the album, right, I ain't gonna kid ya I have said it before and I will say again, I really don't like this track, but I do get it. Not just from the plot view, but musically I don't think Ne-Yo has to go down the road of 'because electro dace is popular I should be doing it too' it's similar to Michael Jackson's rock influenced tracks; Rock was big back then so he made a crossover and Ne-Yo is obviously doing it because dance is so big now and it unifies so many people - from the artists point of view.
Then the track 'What Have I Done' follows as he remorsefully looks back at what has happened, another classy down beat swayer. It is like a modern day Adam & Eve or Romeo & Juliet in some ways. So the finish to the story, the man that gave them powers comes back and gives the hero one of two choices 1) He kills the love of his life and it returns yo how it was before he had powers and all the people she had killed or taken over the minds of will be returned to normal or 2) He disappears, there is no existence for him everything returns to how it was before he got his superpowers and the love of his life is saved. So the 'Libra Scale' choice comes into play ...
This album shows that Ne-Yo is that word that gets bounded around far too often these days - GENIUS! The album, the six ten minute videos that come with it, musically and lyrically all have obvious Michael Jackson influence and Ne-Yo does not hide that fact. Because as he said after playing me the album, 'MJ might be gone but his spirit should still live on in our music', Ne-Yo added 'I want to entertain people and keep people on their toes musically as Michael did'. This album should be in everyone's collection please make sure you pick it up the minute it drops.
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