Ne-Yo hasn’t really been on anyone’s mind lately—a one-time chart mainstay, his last solo top 40 hit came in 2015—but he has a new album out today called Good Man. If you’re thinking that releasing an album with that title at this particular point in time can’t be entirely a coincidence, your hunch is correct. In an interview with Genius about the album’s title track, Ne-Yo explained that he was happy to be releasing this music during the current “climate.” Via Genius:
“This song came out exactly the way I heard it in my head, exactly the way I envisioned it,” he said, in reference to “Good Man.” “I am super-duper proud of the record, on top of it just being the right climate for the record. We’ve got rape charge this, and sexual harassment case that, and it’s, like, in this climate, where yet again we as men have forgotten what it is we’re supposed to do in reference to these women.”
In an interview with AP published today, Ne-Yo was asked about the rise of #MeToo. Here was his response:
AP: You’ve always been supportive of women. What’s it like to see the #MeToo grow so vapidly?
Ne-Yo: I’m really happy about it. Women get a bad rep, and it’s been like forever that women been getting a bad rep. Black people, we got it bad, but the worst thing in the world to be would be a black woman. Like a double whammy, like you gon’ have to work your (butt) off to get crumbs as a black woman. To see what’s happening right now with #MeToo and Times Up and all that, I’m happy about it. Because it’s true. Respect is not optional.
I had to take it upon myself to sit with myself in the mirror and go, “Have you ever really and truly given your 100 percent to any relationship you’ve ever been in? And the answer was, “No.” …I think back to some of the best relationships I’d ever been in, and even in that moment where I was just super happy, super cool with the girl that I was with, she cool, she ride for me, once she’s out of sight, if it’s something over here that’s ready to go, I’m gone. I’m gonna be respectful of my lady in that she’ll never find out. That’s not respect, bruh. That’s not what that is. So with my current relationship, I’m really doing it the right way and realizing that, “Yo, you can really be (expletive) happy. You can be really, like really happy.”
(Note: The transcript sent out by AP and published by multiple outlets does indeed read “What’s it like to see the #MeToo grow so vapidly?” One can assume that the interviewer, Mesfin Fekadu, meant “rapidly.”)
This would all be some uneventful pablum, if it weren’t for one glaring contradiction presented by Good Man, which is that three of its songs were produced by Dr. Luke, who, of course, became something like the precursor to #MeToo after Kesha accused him of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. (Kesha’s attempts to get out of her recording contract with Dr. Luke have been denied in court.)
Despite the above quotes, neither Ne-Yo nor his label appear to be trying to hide Dr. Luke’s involvement, either. Credits for the album on Tidal and Spotify list Luke as having worked on the songs “Nights Like These,” “On Ur Mind,” and “Ocean Sure” under both “Dr. Luke” and Lukasz Gottwald, his birth name. If you scroll further, you’ll notice that all three songs are also said to be co-produced by someone named “MADE IN CHINA,” who does not appear to have any online presence except for songs to which Luke’s name is also attached, such as “Priceless” from the album Trey Songz released last year, and “Can’t Do Better,” the new single released today by Luke’s protégé Kim Petras. MADE IN CHINA may be some unknown producer, but it’s more likely further evidence that Dr. Luke has recently taken up the use of noms de plume.
In the wake of Kesha’s allegations, Luke was more or less pushed out of mainstream pop music. Last year, Katy Perry, once his golden goose, released her first album that didn’t involve him whatsoever. But he has hung around its fringes, with Petras representing another chance for him to shepherd a pop star to the top of the charts. Petras has been asked about her involvement with Luke in interviews, and has generally responded with pleasant non-answers. Here’s what she said to the Daily Beast back in February:
“My personal experience has been great,” Petras says of their working relationship. “I’ve been learning a lot from him and I’ve always been a fan of his. It’s been really fun working with him.”
Ne-Yo’s publicist did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Spin.