Monday, April 26, 2021

Unreleased Ne-Yo as “Shaffer”

Prior to the release of his first album, Ne-Yo (then going by his birth name of “Shaffer” or “Shaffer Smith”) was an unknown artist signed to Columbia Records. This was way back in 2001 before he even gained prominence as a songwriter. The song that got him noticed was “That Girl” by Marques Houston and was originally meant to be his own first single. Sadly Smith’s own version and his completed album for Columbia was never to see the light of day but his breakthrough came when he wrote “Let Me Love You” for Mario in 2004. This lead to him being signed to Def Jam and to him being everywhere in the mid-to-late-2000s. A few of his early tracks can be found on a few quite rare promotional CDs, including the above Destiny’s Child CD which was given away for free with select pairs of Levi’s “Superlow” jeans. With more of a neo-soul sound, this early work is a little more mature than his later endeavors with producers such as StarGate and Neff-U. Sadly at the time of his signing to Columbia, they were going through a state of “chaos” which saw him working with a vast number of different A&R reps. None of them knew what to do with him so he asked to be released from his contract and his then-finished album was shelved. Also of note on this EP, a more kid-friendly version of Destiny’s Child’s 2001 hit “Jumpin’ Jumpin’”. Yes, apparently the original version was not suitable for Disney Radio yet “All Star” by Smash Mouth was? Regardless this version features newly recorded vocals by Beyoncé, Kelly and Solange, who I am guessing was a last minute addition to the lineup after LaTavia and LaToya left in quite a hurry. Not one of my absolute favorite songs by them by any stretch of the imagination but very interesting to hear this different arrangement. 

Survivor (Azza'z Soul Remix)    5:06    (Destiny's Child)
So Good (Maurice's Soul Remix)    7:36    (Destiny's Child)
Jumpin', Jumpin' ft. Solange    3:40    (Destiny's Child)
La Di Dah    4:02    (Shaffer)