Ne-Yo recalls “tripping a little bit” when he scored a meeting with Dre before his career took off, but failed to impress the rap boss with his songwriting talents.
“It was potentially to sign me as an artist, so I go in… He knows that I’m a writer,” Ne-Yo tells Billboard. “Every track that he gave me already had a song on it. He was trying to decide between me and this other artist, whose name I cannot remember right now.
“So he would play the track and say, ‘You think you can write something to this…?’ And then he would play the song that was attached to the track.
“Ultimately, he ended up going with the other guy, ’cause he was a little bit more ‘hood’ than I was.”
But minutes after Dre declined to sign him, Ne-Yo ran into producer Scott Storch, who gave him a huge boost.
“I was feeling a little down,” the 41-year-old singer recalls. “So I run into Scott as I’m leaving, and he’s like, ‘Yo, I don’t know what the hell Dre talking about, but you’re dope. And if you ever find yourself in Miami, look me up…’
“At the time I didn’t know who Scott Storch was. I just knew he played piano. But I didn’t know the slew of hits that he had already had. So my manager gets me down to Miami and he (Storch) just happens to be working for Mario that week. We did, I think, three songs and Let Me Love You was the second song that we did. At the time we knew it was something special, but we had no idea that it was going to do what it did.”
The song turned Ne-Yo into an overnight sensation and led to his career as a singer/songwriter.
“I wasn’t trying to be an artist at this point,” he adds. “After that whole Dr. Dre thing happened, I’m like, ‘All right, clearly I’m not supposed to be an artist. I’m gonna just write for other people’.”