Raised solely by his mother, Ne-Yo was born Shaffer Chimere Smith on October 18, 1982 in Arkansas and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where he began to develop his skills in writing songs. Ne-Yo entered the music scene as one part of an R 'n' B group called Envy but the band sadly parted ways in 2000. He was then signed by Columbia Records, only to find his album project being disappointingly shelved for more than a year, prompting him to leave the company empty-handed. However, a song which was supposed to appear on the album led to his future in music.
R 'n' B artist Marques Houston heard the song "That Girl" and decided to record it for his own album. Since then, Ne-Yo earned the title of being one of the most-sought songwriters, writing for such artists as Christina Milian, Faith Evans, and B2K. He also helped launching Mario's career through his work on the younger guy's single, "Let Me Love You", in 2004. In his effort to find another label, Ne-Yo managed to impress Tina Davis of Def Jam Records who immediately brought him to the Island Def Jam Music Group chairman, Antonio "L.A." Reid. Within a short time, a recording contract was offered.
Collaborating with Peedi Crakk, Ne-Yo released debut single "Stay" in 2005, following it with another entitled "So Sick" in late January 2006. The former did quite well on Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, but it was the latter that truly catapulted the versatile artist to widespread popularity as it topped three Billboard charts of Hot 100, Pop 100, and Hot Digital Songs. Riding on the success of "So Sick", Ne-Yo confidently launched his first studio album, "In My Own Words", on February 28, 2006 and quickly saw the satisfying result when it debuted on number one on Billboard Hot 200 with over 300,000 copies sold a week after its release. Gaining rave reviews from USA Today and People Magazine, this first effort became the biggest sales week for a rookie act since The Game made it on January 23 the previous year.
Ne-Yo's personal life was enhancing as well with the birth of his first child. His then-girlfriend Jessica White gave birth to a boy named Chimere after Ne-Yo's middle name in 2005. However, much later Ne-Yo discovered that the child was not his and he has been in litigation with the child's mother.
Come 2006, Ne-Yo was back in the studio for his sophomore effort which he tentatively titled "Outta This World". The name was later changed to "Know Me" as he wanted people to recognize his "actual self." As the process flowed, he felt that the name wasn't right for this album that he decided to alter it again to "Because of You", the same title for his first single. "It makes the most sense," he said in a statement. "It's because of the people that inspire me to make music. Because of the love of the music. Because of the fans. Because of you, that I do what I do." The album was completed in early 2007 and released on May 1 whereby its arrival was greatly accepted. The album peaked at #1 in Billboard Hot 200, making it his second No. 1 record.
Soon after that, he spread his wings by opening a studio named Carrington House that accommodated new artists to launch their career. He also starred in a dance movie titled "Stomp the Yard" which was released in 2007. His third studio album was at the same time brewing in the studio with Ne-Yo releasing hits like "Closer" and "Miss Independent" to much success on the charts. The album, titled "Year of the Gentleman", was released internationally on August 5, 2008. It was selling 250,000 copies in its first week in the United States, debuting on the Billboard 200 chart at number two. At the 2009 Grammy Awards, Ne-Yo received nominations in Best Contemporary R&B Album, Album of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Closer", and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for "Miss Independent".
His greatest hits compilation "Ne-Yo: The Collection" was released in 2009 in Japan and was certified gold. Meanwhile, Ne-Yo was keen on the work of his fourth studio album. First single "Beautiful Monster" was released in May 2010. Although it reached number one on U.K. Singles chart, the song failed to impress in U.S., bubbling under 50 on both Billboard Hot 100 and R 'n' B chart. Although it didn't have powerful ammo, "Libra Scale" was released on November 22, 2010 and debuted at number nine on Billboard Hot 200 with 112,000 copies sold in the first week. The decent number was partly backed up by Ne-Yo's concept of releasing a Libra Scale comic in collaboration with Stan Lee. He also supported it with international tour up to 2011.
While working on a new album, Ne-Yo took a time to film two motion pictures, "Battle: Los Angeles" and "Red Tails", which were released in 2011 and 2012 respectively. He also had a successful collaboration with Pitbull on the latter's track "Give Me Everything". In early 2012, his label was imprinted to Motown Records in which he was appointed as President of A & R. While scouting on new talents for the label, Ne-Yo began the promotion of his latest album. Single "Lazy Love" was released in June 2012, followed by "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)" the next month. The first single, a down-tempo R&B slow-jam, had a slow climb on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs by debuting at number 97. The second single, which combines elements of synthpop and Europop, has better luck by peaking at number 6 on Billboard Hot 100. The album "R.E.D." was released on October 31, 2012, generally receiving favorable reviews from most music critics. However, it sold only 66,000 copies in its first week, which is almost half of his last effort, debuting on Billboard Hot 200 at number four.