Ne-Yo spoke about the awkward exchange in an interview with Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast, and said he gave “Let Me Love You” to Mario while he was still mainly a songwriter, shortly before he signed to Def Jam in 2005.
The “Miss Independent” crooner said that upon meeting Hov for the first time after getting signed, the only thing he could talk about was how he gave away the chart-topping single.
“Shortly before the Def Jam situation happened I leaned on songwriting,” Ne-Yo said. “I was just a songwriter so I wrote a song for Mario, [‘Let Me Love You’], so this song goes on and stays at number one for 12 or 13 weeks, something like that, becomes one of the most played songs in radio history.”
He continued, “The first time I got to meet JAY-Z, I’d been signed for a couple months at this point. I walk into the room and he’s in there. It’s in L.A. Reid’s office. I walk in, ‘Hey it’s nice to meet you.’ He like, ‘Man, why you give that damn song away?’ Nice to meet you too bruh, cool. I’m Ne-Yo. ‘Why you give that damn song away?’ To this day, he yell at me about giving that damn song away. But I was just a songwriter when I wrote it, I didn’t write it for myself.”
Sharpe then asked if he believed he could have done the song the same kind of justice as Mario. “I’ll be the first to tell you that Mario got chops that I don’t,” Ne-Yo said. “I ain’t got no shame in that, but I know that I got chops too. So yeah. I feel like it woulda worked either way.”
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“Let Me Love You” ended up being Mario’s biggest hit to date, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2004. According to a year-end round-up released by the outlet in 2009, the single was the eighth most successful single of the decade.
The track solidified Mario as one of the biggest R&B stars of the moment, and in 2020 he claimed he still remains the “King Of R&B,” telling WGCI Chicago on Instagram Live that no one’s got pipes like him.
“If we really talking about just straight, pure skill…” Mario began. “We not talking about relevance, we not talking about who puts out 100 songs a year – we talking about, ‘N-gga give me a mic, you get a mic.’ If we just talking about that, there’s nobody fucking with me. I promise you. On everything, I put that on my grave.”
He later added he just has “too much flavor.”
As for Ne-Yo, he’s recently been making headlines for his contentious divorce more than his music. On Mother’s Day this year he found himself in hot water after he posted a “disrespectful” post for the three women in his life that take care of his children: Monyetta Shaw, Crystal Renay, and Sade Jenea.
In the post, which featured a photo of each woman, many fans felt it was classless to include his ex-wife and the woman he allegedly cheated on her with in the same post.
“NeYo I know you have more common sense then this now!!! So disrespectful!!” one fan wrote, while another said: “This post would piss me off so bad smh cause ain’t no way you put me on the same slide with that woman you cheated and had a family on me with. Im sure his intentions were ok but aht aht.”