“Ne-Yo” isn’t short for anything. The R&B singer’s real name is not “Neil Young” or “Ned Yost.” Ne-Yo was born Shaffer Chimera Smith in 1982. Both his parents were musicians although he was raised by his mother. When he was young, Shaffer performed in an R&B group named “Envy” under the appellation of “GoGo.” Smith received his nom de plume from producer Big D. Evans. Evans named Smith after “Neo,” a character from the movie Matrix, because he sees music like “Neo” sees the matrix.
Ne-Yo’s stint with Envy was short lived but they did appear on Showtime at the Apollo and MTV’s The Cut. After Envy broke up in 2000, one of Ne-Yo’s songs, “That Girl” was covered by Marques Houston. The song established Ne-Yo as a songwriter. Before hitting it big as a singer, Ne-Yo composed songs for Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, and Mario. After hitting it big, he penned tunes for Beyoncé Knowles, Celine Dion, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Willow Smith, and Cheryl Cole. For Mario, Ne-Yo wrote “Let Me Love You.” Mario’s version went to number one and stayed there for nine weeks. This eventually led to Ne-Yo signing with Jay-Z and Def Jam records.
Ne-Yo released his first album, In My Own Words, in 2006. The opus debuted at number one and produced the singles “Stay,” “So Sick,” “When You’re Mad,” and “Sexy Love.” His sophomore effort, Because of You, dropped on May 1, 2007. It too debuted at number one. Singles from that album are "Because of You," "Do You,” "Can We Chill," and "Go On Girl."
In 2008, Ne-Yo put out Year of the Gentleman. The album stalled at number two but did out sell its predecessors. Ne-Yo’s first three albums have all earned RIAA platinum certifications. Also in 2008, Ne-Yo recorded a duet with the New Kids on the Block called “Single.” It’s from their fifth studio album The Block.
Ne-Yo’s fourth album was a hit with critics but not with fans. Libra Scale was released on Nov. 22, 2010 and suffered from sluggish sales. It peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200. His fifth studio offering, R.E.D. (Realizing Every Dream) saw the light of day on Sept. 18, 2012. Although the album charted better than Libra Scale it sold fewer copies. His fifth studio album, Non Fiction, dropped on Nov. 11, 2014.
In August of 2011, Ne-Yo, along with Pitbull and Afrojack, were sued by Lindsay Lohan. The actress objected to their song “Give Me Everything” which referenced her by name. Lohan lost the lawsuit.