Ne-Yo on R&B artists: 'There's not a lot of unity'

theGRIO REPORT - Singer, songwriter, producer and actor Ne-Yo talked to theGrio about his upcoming projects and shared which artists he hopes to work with soon...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Singer, songwriter, producer and actor Ne-Yo talked to theGrio about his upcoming projects and shared which artists he hopes to work with soon.

The Grammy Award winner is heading back to the studio this summer to record his currently untitled sixth studio album.  Still in the preliminary stages of development, Ne-Yo said this release will be “predominantly R&B.”

“I don’t fell like I have given R&B as a genre the attention it deserves,” he said. “I’m definitely going back to my roots, listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder and Prince’s old stuff.”

Ne-Yo added that he’s been listening to Marvin Gaye and other early Motown artists as well, in search of inspiration. This should come as no surprise to his fans, since he is the current senior vice-president of A&R at that legendary label.

Working with other artists

As well as starting work on his own album, Ne-Yo will be contributing to an upcoming TLC comeback album.  TLC members Chili and T-Boz are currently working closely on the production of a VH1 biopic about their rise to fame as one of the 90’s top girl groups.

“[TLC] called me about doing original music,” Ne-Yo said. “I’m excited about it, excited about doing music with them.”

The biopic, entitled Crazy, Sexy, Cool: The TLC Story, will air this November on VH1.

The “Let Me Love You” singer recently teamed up with UK pop star Cher Lloyd to write a song for Fruttare Fruit Bars, based on social media responses.  The frozen popsicle brand is expanding from Britain to the American market and enlisted the two artists to create a song inspired by their slogan: “It’s all good.”

“We told fans to hit us up on Facebook and Twitter,” Ne-Yo explained. “We took those ideas and themes to help us write the song.”

Ne-Yo confirmed the new song, entitled “It’s All Good,”  is completed, and it will be available June 18 on Fruttar Fruit Bars’ Facebook page.

Ne-Yo is a veteran in the music industry and has worked with countless artists, including Usher, Mariah Carey and the late Michael Jackson.

When it comes to artists he would like to collaborate with in the future, Ne-Yo said “at this point it is a list a mile long.”

“Me and Beyoncé have never done a duet before. I think that would be cool, ” he said.  The “Miss Independent” singer has also expressed an interest in teaming up with Rihanna again.  The two worked together previously on the 2007 single “Hate That I Love You.”

Today’s R&B

With a strong R&B focus for his next album, Ne-Yo weighed in on the state of male R&B today.

“There’s not a lot of animosity, but there’s not a lot of unity either,” he said.

Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean and Chris Brown are among the contemporaries he has reached out to.

“Something that will help strengthen R&B will be collaborations.”

Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals