By Shannon Carlin
In our series Related Questions we get to know a song from a different view by asking the artist about not only the track itself, but anything and everything that could possibly pertain to it. This time around we’re talking with Ne-Yo about his new single, “She Knows” to find out what it is she actually knows, why his mom will always know best and the one thing Beyoncé knows that all other female performers only wish they knew.
In Ne-Yo’s opinion the art of storytelling has been lost, but he’s not quite sure why. “There’s nothing better than a good story,” he told Radio.com. “And I think I tell pretty good ones from time to time.”
On his upcoming album, Non-Fiction, which he’s dubbing the “Rebirth of Storytelling,” Ne-Yo is telling tales that stem from his own life and the lives of his fans, who he reached out to him on social media for song ideas by simple asking, “What’s going on in your relationship?”
“We’ve all been through the ups downs, lefts and rights of love,” Ne-Yo says. “Majority of my music stays in that place because it will never go out of style.”
For his sixth album, Ne-Yo wanted to be brutally honest and even found inspiration in his faults. Namely, the end of his engagement to Monyetta Shaw — who is currently starring on the reality series Atlanta Exes and is the mother of his two children — because of his infidelities.
“I’m telling truths that you don’t want to tell for fear of judgment. I don’t fear that judgment anymore,” he says. “I want people to see that you can make a mistake and that it doesn’t have to be the end all, doesn’t have to haunt you forever. You don’t have to forever be known for this mistake if you move past it.”
But with his latest single, “She Knows,” a horn-infused club banger produced by Dr. Luke, Ne-Yo wanted to get you dancing. Or, really, get strippers dancing. “I wanted to make something for the strip club that isn’t just for the strip club,” he says. “It’s a record that could move. It’s for the house party, for the strip club. It’s something to get you going in the morning or before you head out for the night.”
Ne-Yo also wanted to bring on a special guest who seemed like he probably knew his way around a gentleman’s club. “Juicy J is the perfect person to hammer that home,” Ne-Yo says.
We couldn’t agree more.
Radio.com: Based on the title, what is it that she knows?
Ne-Yo: Well, the song is about a woman knowing that she’s sexy. A woman knowing her power. It’s about confidence. You can tell when a woman knows what she’s working with, you can completely tell. It’s in her walk, it’s in her eyes, it’s in the way she looks at you, it’s in the way that she speaks. You can completely see it. And I can say it’s honestly one of the sexiest things on the face of this planet. People ask all the time,‘What do you like in a woman?’ Confidence, it’s not so much hair, long or short or black or white. It’s confidence. A woman who just walks into the room and knows she’s sexy. You have no choice but to agree with her.
Since it’s off your upcoming album Non-Fiction, is “She Knows” based on a real experience you had at the club?
I’ve definitely run into those types of women before, absolutely. Those are the types of women that I’m most attracted to in every setting. You know, not just romantic settings, but just, I know a lot of corporate women. I know a lot of women who work in offices and that’s another place that takes a lot of confidence. You have to exude a certain energy to be in these offices, to be in the corporate world. A good friend of mine, she says it all the time, ‘This is a business run by men. But I’m at the top of the heap and there’s a reason for that.’ Again, it’s a power that women have that men just kind of don’t. [Laughs] You know what I mean? And the most deadliest thing on the face of this planet is a woman that has realized she has this power and has tapped into it.
In the song you use the pronoun “she,” never giving the woman a specific name. Why is that?
I think you use ‘she’ because you want every woman listening to feel like the song is about her. If I said, “Britney knows,” then all I get is the Britneys. [Laughs] You know, Lisa over here is like, ‘What about me? I know too!’ You use ‘she’ so that all women listening can listen to it and be empowered at the same time.