Ne-Yo, the man with the golden voice, sounds like an unofficial spokesman for Las Vegas.
He went to Las Vegas Academy and Rancho High School. He will sing Thursday at Encore Beach Club’s nighttime pool party.
So I asked Ne-Yo my favorite Las Vegas question: “How would you change Vegas to make it better?” Answer: Nada.
“We’ve got some of the best strip clubs in the world, some of the best restaurants in the world, some of the best nightclubs in the world, and the Strip itself. I guess the only thing that would make it better is more,” Ne-Yo said.
“It’s a place where you come and live out fantasies and do something you’ve never attempted before. That’s Vegas’ function. Like: ‘OK, I can never do this at home, so I’m gonna go to Vegas and try it.’ People need that.
“Vegas is your escape. If life is humdrum where you live, come to Vegas and live it up for a couple of days. It’s that breath of fresh air you need every now and then.”
That’s a strong statement, don’t you think so, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority?
I like Ne-Yo’s confidence. I asked him what people should expect to experience from his new album, “Non-Fiction,” when it comes out Sept. 30.
“Just tell people to get ready for the rebirth of storytelling. That’s what this album is. It’s me reviving, or breathing new air, into the art of storytelling,” he said.
Ne-Yo found fame initially in R&B and then in the world of electronic dance music.
If you’re new to Ne-Yo, try YouTube-ing him for “Let Me Love You,” “So Sick,” “One In A Million,” “Miss Independent,” “Mad,” “Closer,” Beautiful Monster” and “Champagne Life.” Those songs have earned around a half-billion views.
His new album will be R&B, rather than electronic dance music. Why?
“For me, this album is coming home a little bit. R&B is what introduced me to music. It’s the first genre I ever listened to,” Ne-Yo said.
“So when I was hearing (some people say), ‘Ne-Yo doesn’t do R&B anymore,’ or ‘Ne-Yo abandoned R&B,’ that (expletive) hurt my feelings. I was like, ‘Are y’all serious?’ ”
Now just because the new album isn’t EDM, that doesn’t mean he’s abandoning his loyal EDM fans, Ne-Yo said.
“They kept the lights on for a long time,” he said of fans of his EDM dance songs. “I will always appreciate them. I will always do for them.
“But for this particular album, I just needed to remind people that this (R&B) is not what I do, this is what I am.”
The best way to think about Ne-Yo is as a Prince-type of an entertainer. Prince has always written and performed in different genres. So does Ne-Yo.
Ne-Yo said delivering high-quality music, and growing as an artist, is “what it’s all about.”
“That’s always been my understanding of this whole artistry thing: ‘You figured out something that works? Cool. That was a moment. Now let’s bring in a new moment.’
“That’s what I try to do with my music, is create moments,” Ne-Yo said.
That’s why he recently put out one duet with Celine Dion (“Incredible”) and another with Young Jeezy (“Money Can’t Buy”).
“I dig the fact my fans have allowed me to be as diverse as I am,” Ne-Yo said. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fans and say, ‘I appreciate you.’ ”
And what can you expect if you go see him Thursday at Encore Beach Club?
“It’s gonna be a sexy time,” he said. “You come, listen to good music, have a drink, and run into a pretty person and do something that stays in Vegas.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.