Ne-Yo's debut album was In My Own Words, released in 2006.The album was critically successful, reaching number one on the Billboard 200.Boosted by its popular second single "So Sick", the album debuted at number one on Billboard 200, selling over 301,000 copies in its first week on sale.His second album, Because of You, was released on May 1, 2007, and, fueled by its lead single, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 251,000 copies in the United States; the feat gave Ne-Yo his second number-one album.MN: His mom looks like she can be a piece of work at times. If that gets me eliminated off of the show or not, I don’t care because I’d rather stand up for my truth and stand in that than not.” And she respected that. MN: On the show, you described the paternity issue with Ne-Yo and the things that followed as a situation you were thrown into that wasn’t your “choice.” Can you elaborate on what you mean by that? I didn’t believe that you could find love on a reality show in the beginning, but I felt like all the signs were kind of pointing for me to do it so I just kind of went with it. As far as Shawn, what attracted me to him was that he’s very charming, he was a good listener and I felt like he got me. He also mentioned White women who go “right to sleep without the head wraps.” What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, wrap your hair up a little bit later, but I’m trying to go to bed sexy. MN: Were you concerned about your past resurfacing when you signed on to appear on the show?
So I was like, I’m going to stand up here, take the risk in front of everybody at the same time and I’m going to tell him what I have to say because I really like him so I was willing to take that chance because what I felt for him was real. I was like, “There’s going to be some stuff that I am going to tell you and your son that you’re probably not going to like, but I’m going to tell you the truth. It’s something that I was thrown into based on what PR people decided to do at that time.
While in the Las Vegas Academy, Smith adopted the stage name "Go Go" and joined an R&B group called Envy, who appeared during amateur night on Showtime at the Apollo The group disbanded in 2000, and Smith continued to write songs for other artists before starting his solo career.
The stage name "Ne-Yo" was coined by Big D Evans, a producer with whom Ne-Yo once worked, American singer Marques Houston happened to hear "That Girl", which Ne-Yo had planned to release as his debut single off his then-unreleased album.
Ne-Yo's third album, Year of the Gentleman, was released internationally on August 5, 2008.
Speaking to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul, Ne-Yo explained the thinking behind its title: "To me Year of the Gentleman is all about a persona, a swag and a charm. And, in my personal opinion, the essence of the gentleman is absent right now.