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Looking Back on Ne-Yo’s top Hip Hop Collaborations

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Currently, Young Jeezy is enjoying the crossover success of his latest single, “Leave You Alone,” taken from his TM103 album. The song is notable for its melodic beat and an addictive chorus from Ne-Yo. Ne-Yo and Young Jeezy were both signed to Def Jam at the same time, with Jeezy releasing his debut in 2005 and Ne-Yo releasing his debut in 2006.

It has been six years since the release of Ne-Yo’s breakout single, “So Sick,” which introduced the world to one of the most-gifted entertainers. Even when he does not have an album out, many consider Ne-Yo the king of R&B. One reason Ne-Yo continues to wear this crown is because of his hip hop collaborations.

Along with his own romantic singles, Ne-Yo has helped polish off many thuggish records, even helping some rappers to their only hit singles. Being an R&B singer can be a tough job, especially when working with rappers, sometimes being the only talented artist. Ne-Yo has been featured on a number of spring and summer anthems over the years. It is amazing how fast time goes by.

While he was still establishing himself as a force in the R&B game, Ne-Yo lended his vocals to Def Jam label-mate, Ghostface Killah, for his lone 2006 hit, “Back Like That.” Released late in the winter of 2006, the song became a minor spring hit for the Wu-Tang Clan member. However, for Ne-Yo, it was the start of his career as the hookman on numerous hip hop songs. A relative newcomer to the game, Ne-Yo was able to introduce himself to the cult following of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Ghostface Killah ft. Ne-Yo – “Back Like That”

After enjoying a bit of mainstream success, Ghostface Killah disappeared from the spotlight, while Ne-Yo continued to deliver hit singles, which captured the hearts of women and were still appealing to men. The year of 2006 saw a breakout from Ne-Yo, but he was determined to prove he could dominate for more than one year. Ne-Yo went back in the studio, returning with another album in 2007 and another collaboration. This time, Ne-Yo joined forces with the commercial-appealing Fabolous, who dubbed himself and Ne-Yo the new version of Jay-Z and R. Kelly. The duo delivered the summer of 2007 their “Make Me Better” hit.

Fabolous ft. Ne-Yo – “Make Me Better”

Fabolous had been out of the public eye for nearly three years, but a smooth track, with Ne-Yo handling the hook was enough to bring him back to the top ten, as if he never left. “Make Me Better” was one of the biggest anthems in 2007 and helped Fabolous enjoy a nice comeback. The future appeared bright for Fabolous, as Ne-Yo had grown used to the spotlight, by this time. But, Fabolous would suffer more push-backs on his next album, forcing his next album to be another comeback. Ne-Yo soon found himself working with relative newcomer, Plies, deemed a one-hit-wonder following his 2007 hit, “Shawty.” With Ne-Yo on the hook, Plies established himself as a star with “Bust it Baby, Pt. 2.”

Plies ft. Ne-Yo – “Bust it Baby, Pt. 2”

The success of “Bust it Baby, Pt. 2” led to Plies becoming one of the most-popular rappers in 2008. Capitalizing off his popularity, Plies’ label, Atlantic Records, allowed him to release a second album in 2008, which kept his music active well into 2009. But, in 2009, Plies soon saw his buzz fizzle. In the time since then, Plies has been more of an afterthought, instead of a force, in the game. While Plies has been focused on a comeback, Ne-Yo soon found himself working alongside Jadakiss, adding a touch of R&B to his hardcore music and their single, “By My Side,” was a minor hit during the late stages of 2008.

Jadakiss ft. Ne-Yo – “By My Side”

Even with a song geared toward the radio, Jadakiss could not convince Def Jam to release his album, The Last Kiss. More months would pass before the world heard the third album from Jadakiss. But, Ne-Yo had established himself as the R&B workhorse, lending his services to Jamie Foxx, who had already recruited Fabolous for his own version of Ne-Yo’s own single, “Miss Independent.” The new Foxx version was renamed to “She Got Her Own,” which was a bigger hit than “By My Side,” taking over the radio waves during the late months of 2008. During this time, Ne-Yo also performed the hook for The Game’s single, “Camera Phone,” which failed to generate much interest.

Jamie Foxx ft. Ne-Yo and Fabolous – “She Got Her Own”

The Game ft. Ne-Yo – “Camera Phone”

Given the run he enjoyed in 2008, Ne-Yo was in high demand in 2009. Keri Hilson had been trying to release her debut album for two years, but was denied each time by her label. But, once her “Turnin’ Me On” single became a hit, Interscope realized they had a star on their hands. With that, Keri Hilson wanted something explosive for her follow-up single. Released in the early spring of 2009, Hilson turned to Def Jam’s stars, Kanye West and Ne-Yo, for her single, “Knock You Down.” In the music video, West and Ne-Yo face-off for the attention of Keri Hilson.

Keri Hilson ft. Kanye West and Ne-Yo – “Knock You Down”

50 Cent, a bad boy in the rap game and proud of it, infamously taunted his archrival, Ja Rule, for making songs which were solely for the ladies. While he made fun of Ja Rule for this, 50 Cent had a made his biggest hits by emulating the same format. But, it was not until 2009 when he recruited Ne-Yo for the official remix of his “Baby by Me” single when 50 Cent truly crossed over. The song became an anthem, as 50 Cent found a way to woo the ladies and brag about his wealth.

50 Cent ft. Ne-Yo – “Baby by Me”

In this game, things are rarely personal. Months after “Baby by Me,” Ne-Yo found himself working with Rick Ross, who had given 50 Cent a fit in 2009. The two rappers were in the middle of their high-profile feud, when Ne-Yo gave 50 Cent the pop hit he desperately needed. But, it was less than a year later, when he was providing his services to Rick Ross. While the charts did not necessarily reflect this, “Super High” was better-received by the public and helped Rick Ross to the current run he is enjoying.

Rick Ross ft. Ne-Yo – “Super High”

In 2010, Ne-Yo provided his services to Rick Ross, but his primary success came from his own music. Libra Scale, his first album in two years, was a major success. Ne-Yo was relatively silent in 2011, as he prepared to leave his longtime label home, Def Jam, for another UMG label, Motown Records. Before he left Def Jam, he finally worked with Young Jeezy. The two came together for the previously-mentioned “Leave You Alone” single, which enjoyed a well-received music video premiere this past week.

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