Ne-Yo and Rihanna certainly have a special working relationship. After collaborating on some of Rihanna’s most memorable hits, they came together, with the help of producer Chuck Harmony, for her latest single, “Russian Roulette.” But the new track, off her upcoming Rated R album, sounds very little like “Hate That I Love You” or “Take a Bow.”
Ne-Yo said Rihanna requested the song’s somber vibe. “She wanted to be dark, but not just dark for the sake of being dark,” he told MTV News. “Dark with kind of a meaning, dark with some kind of thing to it.”
Ne-Yo called the track “my first ventures off into the fictitious,” as he explained how he came up with the haunting Russian roulette theme, which appears to be a metaphor.
“I’m listening to the track, and all I can see is Rihanna and some random person sitting across from each other at the table with a gun sitting in the middle of the table and playing Russian roulette,” he explained. “And I just started thinking, ‘What would go through your mind if you was in that situation?’ It just all started coming together, and Rihanna has never been one to be afraid to take a chance, especially with me. She’s always game to do something a little different. I played it for her, and she loved it â€” went in and knocked it out. The rest is history.”
The eerie ballad shows the world how both Ne-Yo and Rihanna have grown as artists, he said. And that growth stemmed from their “absolute trust.”
“I trust Rihanna to be Rihanna, and she trusts me to be me,” he said. “That’s the coolest thing about our relationship. I don’t expect anything more from her. I must say this song is a step in somewhat of a different direction for both of us. We kind of both took a chance.”
And to the fans who think the track is too dark for a club favorite like Rihanna, Ne-Yo suggests they look back into music history. “It’s definitely dark, but if you think about it, ‘Thriller’ was dark, but it’s one of the biggest-selling records of all time,” he argued.
“Nobody’s really going out to play Russian roulette or thinking about killing themselves or nothing like that. It was just an interesting topic over a crazy beat, and who better to pull that off than somebody like Rihanna?”