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Considering his gorgeous voice and boyish good looks, it's surprising that Ne-Yo started his career as a songwriter for some of the biggest names in R&B. But after years of paying his dues under Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans and B2K, the Las Vegas singer finally branched out on his own in late 2005 with the single "Stay," featuring Peedi Peedi. In early 2006 he dropped his subsequent Def Jam debut, In My Own Words, yielding three Top 40 singles, the most popular of which was "So Sick." In 2006 Ne-Yo was R&B's King Midas, writing songs for Beyonce (the smash hit "Irreplaceable") as well as working on new projects by Usher, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Chris Brown and Whitney Houston. It's amazing that he found time to work on his sophomore solo album, but 2007's Because of You was every bit as irresistible as his freshman effort. His success granted him license to get melancholy on 2008's Year of the Gentleman -- it was his party, after all, and he could cry if he wanted to.
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