Las Vegas native Ne-Yo (real name Shaffer Smith) has quickly carved a name for himself as one of the hot young hitmakers of this decade. His star rose quickly as his composition "Let Me Love You" became a number one hit for Mario in 2004. He was soon working on his own debut album, Let Me Love You, which amazingly debuted at #1 in 2006 on the strength of the hit single "So Sick."
While Let Me Love You showed a fair amount of lyrical immaturity and almost sophomoric obsession with sex, it was an unadulterated smash and became one of the year's biggest R&B albums. As that album was climbing the charts, Ne-Yo continued writing for others, and penned a couple of the biggest hits of that year, Rihanna's ballad "Unfaithful" and Beyonce's uber-smash, "Irreplaceable," which spent nearly three months at #1. He also had his acting debut in the movie Stomp the Yard.
Over the next several years Ne-Yo continued to achieve commercial success as a singer -- most recently with his 2010 album Libra Scale and its hit single "Closer" -- but even to a greater extent as a songwriter and member of the Stargate production team, working with artists from Beyonce to Rihanna to Pitbull. He later became an executive at Motown, even while continuing his recording and production career.
By Chris Rizik