V Exclusive: Ne-Yo On Why He's Done With Euro-Pop, Debuting His Bad Boy Side and The Weeknd Craze

More than likely you've spent the last year swaying along to the curse-crammed harmonies of R&B's reigning assholes, but is radio still feigning for a gentleman's touch? VIBE caught up with Ne-Yothe #16 pick in our 21 Most Important Black Artists Alive (Under 40!) list—to see how he's adjusting to the darker side of R&B, where he went wrong with his last album and why he's thinking about swapping his fedora with a fitted.—John Kennedy 

VIBE: If your 2008 album represented Year Of The Gentleman, 2011 is definitely “Year of the Asshole,” in terms of R&B. What do you think of the wave of explicit R&B that’s popular now? 
Ne-Yo: R&B is traditionally for women, but even women will tell you the nice guy can get annoying after a little while. They want the nigga that's going to grab you by the back of your head every now and then. The dude that's going to bring you flowers just because, then fuck the shit out of you. It's just the balance of the two, or a guy that knows how to do both—that's the void right there. Me, I'm the gentleman, I'm for the ladies. And then you have the other side where the name of the song is "Bitch." So somebody's toeing the line between the two, maybe that's where I need to come in with this next album.

Word. In a lot of ways, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd represent that polar opposite of your style.
I haven't heard a lot of Frank Ocean's stuff.  I dig “Novacane,” I like his storytelling. Somebody just recently put me up on The Weeknd. I like his vibe; he's definitely one of those cats that might curse you out on a record, but he's going to sing, so you almost don't even notice that he just cursed you out. I dig it though. It's—for lack of a better word—definitely music you fuck to, not make love. Even in that, he has some very honest songs. He says “Tell me you love me…I know you don't love me,” talking to this stripper chick. I feel him on that. Like you need this money; you're going to treat me like you love me, that's what I want. That's some real shit.

Are you going to lean toward a more bad boy image?
To a degree. I can only be so rough and tumble; that's just not really my personality. But at the same time, I know how to live in that gray area, be a nigga that knows how and when to be both. So, yeah, I'm in the process of trying to put together an album that speaks from the mentality of Mr. Gray.

Most important is that it’s honest.
People always want to hear a story, but it's not always boy meets girl, falls in love and lives happily ever after. That's not reality. Reality is boy meets girl, boy might have a baby mama who's crazy, so on and so forth. People are more into reality than fantasy when it comes to R&B nowadays and I ain't mad at that. Putting together this new album has definitely been a journey. With my last album not doing as well as the previous three, it gave me time to sit back and look at the image I portray and what I put out there. I felt like people were looking at me like he's too fucking nice, it has to be fake. Nobody's that damn nice all the time. Every now and then you want to curse somebody out or slap the shit out of somebody. And nobody's ever seen that side of me. I call myself protecting my fans [by] not showing that side, because it's not a pretty side. You'll definitely see a side of me on this album no one has seen before. People are either going to love it, hate it or not going to be ready for it. I'll be back in September.

Would you consider doing another concept album like Libra Scale?
I would, but I wouldn't do it the way that I did Libra Scale; I would do it the way [Michael Jackson] did Thriller. The genius of Thriller is there’s a 10 minute video for “Thriller,” but the rest of the album is just good music. It wasn't a continuation of trying to stretch this story across a whole album, which is the mistake I feel I made on Libra Scale. You'll lose a motherfucker's attention real fast. So were I to do another concept album it would be a little more to the point.

 As long as it’s not a Euro-Pop album…


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Juice Wrld performs onstage during the 2018 Made In America Festival - Day 1 at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 1, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Lil Tecca, Skai Jackson, Lil Yachty And More Pay Tribute To Juice WRLD

The death of Jarad Anthony Higgins, also known as Juice WRLD, has left the hip hop world and beyond in mourning. The artist reportedly suffered a seizure Sunday at an airport in Chicago. Since his passing, many fans and collaborators have shared their condolences.

Juice's last Instagram post celebrating his 21st birthday includes friends and fans sending their love. "You were just giving me tips on how to battle my anxiety," said Lil Tecca, who worked with the rapper for his "Ransom (Remix)." DaBaby also shared, "Fly high my boy." Others like Lil Yachty were at a loss for words. "Bye brother, love u dawg," he captioned a photo of the two on Instagram.

In addition to endless IG posts, fans shared their favorite songs by the rapper and some of his stellar freestyles. One of his most popular freestyles was his second Funk Flex freestyle in September.

See more touching tributes below.

Terrible news about the young man Juice Wrld. We share December 2nd as our arrival day. Gone way too soon. Life is precious.

— *LAMB OVER RICE* (@ActionBronson) December 8, 2019

Juice Wrld all day. R.I.P

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) December 8, 2019

really shocked and sad to find out juice wrld passed away, ... and so young too... a reminder that life can be over any moment... be kind to one another.

— Zedd (@Zedd) December 8, 2019

— Sir Ski Mask (@THESLUMPGOD) December 8, 2019


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😢😔 bye brother, love u dawg.. rip

A post shared by FaZe Boat (@lilyachty) on Dec 8, 2019 at 7:28am PST


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Rest Up Legend 😔💔 #RIPJuiceWrld

A post shared by NLE CHOPPA (@chopparare) on Dec 8, 2019 at 7:43am PST


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🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 Long Live Juice. cover his family right now and give them strength. @nolimit_gmoney @lilbibby_ @nolimitherbo

A post shared by TINK 🔮 (@official__tink) on Dec 8, 2019 at 8:13am PST

Wow this makes me more upset, RIP Juice WRLD not only are we losing a legend we are missing out on what could have been a smash hit between two legends, Davido and Juice Wrld☹️

— Davidodailyupdates (@Davidodailyupd1) December 8, 2019

fam what, RIP to that young man Juice

— father (@father) December 8, 2019

Rest In Peace Juice Wrld... so sad

— Skai (@skaijackson) December 8, 2019

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Rapper Juice Wrld attends Power105.1's Powerhouse 2018 at Prudential Center on October 28, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey.
Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Power 105.1

Juice WRLD Dead At 21

Chicago artist Juice WRLD has died at the age of 21 following a seizure. The rapper, known globally for his emo-rap style, collapsed at Chicago's Midway Airport after suffering from what was initially reported as a “medical issue,” by the Chicago Fire Department and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

TMZ reported Sunday (Dec. 8) Juice, born Jarad Anthony Higgins, was alive when paramedics arrived on the scene. Paramedics found Higgins bleeding from the mouth and rushed him to the hospital. Higgins regained consciousness but was pronounced dead by the time he reached a local hospital. “This is being classified currently as a death investigation," Natalia Derevyanny, Director of Communications for the Cook County medical examiner's office, told Billboard. "There are no initial signs of foul play and we are awaiting results from the medical examiner on the cause and manner of death.” An investigation is currently underway.

Higgins was born on December 2 and raised in Chicago. After the release of his first single "All Girls Are The Same," in 2018, he signed a record deal with Lil Bibby's Grade A Productions and Interscope Records. Juice WRLD became known the most for his emo-rap style and rose to the top of the charts that same year with the single, "Lucid Dreams." The track went five times platinum and earned a No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

His debut album Goodbye and Good Riddance reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and went on to sell over a million copies. His success led to adored collaborations with Travis Scott and a collaborative mixtape with Future titled, WRLD on Drugs. He also earned a Best New Artist award at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards in May. His second album Death Race for Love was also a hit with fans, reaching No. 1 on the charts and sprouting the singles, "Robbery" and "Hear Me Calling."

But his notable feats were his battles with anxiety and drug use. The artist openly talked about his use of lean in the 6th grade and taking Percocet and Xanax at the age of 15. “What do you expect if I’m a young dude that really loves music, really looks up to these artists? I didn’t have a man giving me no type of guidance," he said about rappers and their behavior inspiring his own to Billboard. "My father wasn’t in my life like that.” he also shared with the magazine efforts to inspire his fans.

“I want to be that person that leads people out of the place they’re at,” he said. “And in the process, maybe I’ll find the key to get out of the place that I’m at. The low places I may wander into or get trapped in.”

In July, he shared with fans his road to sobriety while apologizing to his longtime girlfriend Ally Lotti. “Ima leave that s**t alone 4 good watch me, I’m done wit it,” he tweeted. “I got work to do, a lot. Learn from this everyone. Addiction kills all but you can overcome."

He also appeared to be in good spirits leading up to his 21st birthday.

This life is yours do what tf you want do great things and change the world don’t let no one tell you SHIT.. and you’ll be bigger than “juice wrld” will ever be, and he’s going down as a legend - Jarad

— . (@JuiceWorlddd) December 1, 2019

He had plans to wrap up his third album. His friend and engineer Max Lord shared the status of the project with XXL. “We’re focusing a lot more on [Juice Wrld’s] evolution in terms of where like the first album was more dealing with the bad relationship and with heartbreak and with the torment that brought,” he said.

Juice WRLD made a splash with other artists this year like Lil Tecca's "Ransom (Remix)," Ski Mask The Slump God's "Nuketown" and the remake of Vitamin C's 1999 classic pop tune, "Graduation (Friends Forever)" with benny blanco.

He is survived by his mother and older brother.

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Jamie McCarthy

Obie Trice Arrested For Felony Assault After Shooting Incident

Detroit rapper and D-12 associate Obi Trice was jailed after a domestic incident that ended with his girlfriend’s 18-year-old son getting shot. According to court records, Trice was booked into Oakland County Jail early Friday (Dec. 6) morning for aggressive felony assault against a family member and contempt of court for violating a protection order.

Neighbors called police after hearing commotion coming from Trice’s home, TMZ reports. Trice, who had allegedly been drinking all day, got into a physical altercation with his girlfriend when her son stepped in to take her out of the home. Before they could leave, Trice went to get his firearm. The gun went off during a struggle between the son and Trice, hitting the young man in the groin. He was able to drive himself to the hospital and is reportedly in stable condition.

Trice, 42, was allegedly carrying a gun when police arrived, but was arrested without incident. The former Shady Records artist who launched his own record label, Black Market Entertainment, released his fifth studio album, The Fifth, this past August.


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