“We’re headed back to the hotel and it was on the way to the Def Jam building,” the singer tells Billboard. “We didn’t go in ’cause we had already been there trying to shop songs a few days earlier, but he was like, ‘Let me run back up because I learned that a friend of mine from high school works here and I haven’t seen her in years…’
“His friend was Tina Davis, who at the time was head of A&R for Def Jam records… I’m in the corner of the room, twiddling thumbs and waiting on them to do the whole ‘reunited and it feels so good’ type thing. Then she says to him, ‘So what have you been up to?’ (and he responds), ‘I’m working with writers just like this one.'”
Wilson then played Davis some of Ne-Yos music and she told the unknown star to perform for her, which he did.
The A&R woman didn’t seem that impressed, but then she picked up a phone and called her boss, L.A. Reid.
“So we go up to his office… and he goes, ‘So you’re the next big thing…?'” Ne-yo recalled.
“I performed for them and they all gave me deadpan faces, no emotion, no feedback whatsoever. Then when I was done, he was like, ‘Thank you very much. Can you guys step outside? Let me talk to my people right quick’.”
Ne-Yo admits that after waiting in the lobby for an hour, he was about to give up and go home.
“I turned to Sauce (and said), ‘Bro, let’s go. It don’t take this long for them to decide if they want to do something or not (sic)’,” he smiled. “So we get up and as we’re leaving, the assistant pops their head and says, ‘Mr. Reid would like to know your lawyer’s information. He wants to give you a deal’.”