Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Because Of You (Review) - Ne-Yo

(All songs produced by Shea Taylor unless noted)
1. Because Of You | 4:27 | 4 - 4.25 (Produced by Stargate)
Many people have criticized this song because it doesn’t follow the vein of Ne-Yo’s two most recognizable singles, Sexy Love & So Sick, but I feel that simplicity wins this over, at the very least.
2. Crazy (Featuring Jay-Z) | 4:21 | 4.25 - 4.75 (Produced by Ron “Neff-U” Feemster)
“But I didn’t, so maybe it’s good to be crazy, isn’t it baby?”
3. Can We Chill | 4:24 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by Eric Hudson)
4. Do You | 3:48 | 3.25 - 3.75 (Produced by The Heavyweights)
While very skillfully done, I have a feeling this is rather overproduced at times.
5. Addicted | 3:46 | 3.75 - 4
Emulates the Michael Jackson-Prince subject matter well. “I apologize for having the ability to satisfy accurately.” Looks stupid on paper, but hilarious when you hear it.
6. Leaving Tonight (Featuring Jennifer Hudson) | 5:15 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Knobody)
I see the point of the little introduction, but Ne-Yo needs to learn the show, dont’ tell concept.
7. Ain’t Thinking About You | 3:41 | 3.25 - 3.5 (Produced by Eric Hudson)
8. Sex With My Ex | 3:39 | 3.5 - 3.75
I appreciate the off-tuned piano, adds some flavor.
9. Angel | 3:28 | 3 - 3.25 (Produced by Syience)
Production front never really takes flight, like an angel with no wings.
10. Make It Work | 4:09 | 4 - 4.25
Absolutely adore the chorus, one of the best uses of ayo in a long time.
11. Say It | 4:41 | 3.75 - 4 (Produced by Keys)
Includes one of the more experimental / successful production fronts on the album. A little overpowering at times though, but I believe that was the artistic direction.
12. Go On Girl | 4:21 | 3 - 3.5 (Produced by Stargate)
13. Spotlight (Japanese Bonus Track) | 4:04 | 3.5 - 3.75 (Produced by The Heavyweights)

Overall Rating: 46 - 50 | 74% | 3.7 / 5 | Impressive; well above average; TRY IT

When I read a review online for this album, I glanced over someones opinion where they compared Ne-Yo to Michael Jackson, and supported it with quite some evidence. While I dismissed this at first, when I listened to this album again, I saw the similarities and the deceased singers personality in Ne-Yo’s veins, with songs such as Addicted.

Ne-Yo is a deceptively simple artist when you look upon his albums. While he was a tad immature upon his last album, In My Own Words, this album shows the more experimental side of Ne-Yo, providing more strong vocals and a more stable, refined production front. Again, the simplicity of Ne-Yo, whether it be singing about going simple crazy for a girl or wanting to chill with a girl, is an easy, relatable expierence, and quite simply put, enjoyable. Most of the producers are consistent upon the album, with no one really hampering the tempo, rhythmn or harmony of the album in any way, and most of the efforts done here show genuine skill, particularly Ron “Neff-U” Feemster.

Continuing on with my praise of Ron’s production front upon my personal favorite song, Crazy, Ron provides the simple bed of hand-claps, drums and a twinkling piano that continues on throughout the song, as simple elements such as the plucks of a string, or the rumbling bass are added throughout the song and choruses. Ne-Yo’s topic matter, while certainly not original is heavily supported from the deftly quick Jay-Z verse and the soulful crooning. It’s certainly more of a background song, with the Jay-Z part coming and going quickly, while still being memorable, and the Ne-Yo singing just allowing you to think about that special someone.

While I stated that there aren’t really any moments that hamper the album significantly, there are points throughout the album that succeed more than the standard. The title track is certainly something, yet this something was criticized a bit for not replicating the same feelings as Ne-Yo’s singles, Sexy Love & So Sick. While all three of the songs were produced by the common collaborator (and highly skilled) Stargate, I think Because Of You is the most subtle, which helps it a lot whenver you feel up for the listen. It’s not as demanding on the ears, and that’s the charm of this song, and the album as a whole.

Songs like Can We Chill, Make It Work, Sex With My Ex or Addicted are strong songs on the album, with the production and topical matter meshing together seamlessly. Addicted features a nice Michael Jackson/Prince emulation, talking about a girl that may be addicted to him, for sex or not for, but eventually leading to sex. Can We Chill is a breezy pop song about the simple asking of a date that anyone would appreciate, and Make It Work features one of Ne-Yo’s best choruses in a while. Sex With My Ex features a risky-production front, with the helter-skelter features, but works as a whole.

The only true flaw in the album, however, is the single, Go On Girl. While Stargate provides a nice acoustic production, it seems rather similar-sounding to With You on Chris Brown’s album, who eventually did it better. It’s certainly not a bad song, but it just seems like a blatant pop moment for me.

I really wrote this review quickly, because I already knew everything to say before hand. I’m going to keep on repeating this same theme over and over, but only because it’s true. The true charm in this album is the simplicity of it. It seems so long ago that the R&B landscape had some mere innocence in it, yet now, we’re plagued with random R&B nobodies (Not The-Dream, R.Kelly, Trey Songz, or established acts already known, lets not twist my words) trying to constantly sing about sex, drugs, and money profusely. All of the album has a comfortable atmosphere around it, whether it be Crazy, Sex With My Ex, or Spotlight, all of the elements truly work. It’s a comfortable and charming listen, and proves that you don’t have to be extravagant to provide a good piece of work.

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