On global star Rihanna:
"I think of her as my little sister. We laugh and joke, and play pranks on each other. Working with her is always so much fun."
On the women who raised him:
"I grew up in a house full of women—my mom, my grandma, my sister, and five of my aunts. We weren’t rich, but my mom did everything to make sure we always got what we needed. Her favorite thing to tell us was, 'Don't focus on the things you want, focus on the things you need.' You don't really know what you want; usually when you get something, you don’t want it anymore. But focus on the things you need and you will always be happy.
We didn't care that we didn't have the newest pair of shoes or the hottest pair of jeans, as long as we had food on the table and clothes on our backs. When my dad left, my mom gave me a pen and paper and encouraged me to write it all down, and it turned into this successful songwriting career."
On the kind of girl who can charm her way into his heart:
"There are very large iron doors surrounding my heart. It’s been broken a few times so I'm not going to trust just anyone. In this business, most people have a hidden agenda, and will try to use you. So you have to show me that you're genuine, that you're not just with me so you can call up your friends and say, 'Hey, I hung out with Ne-Yo last night.' It can't be just that."
On girls who love themselves:
"If you can make me laugh, you might just get a ring one day. I like a woman with a sense of humor. Learn to relax—if you're just going to the store around the corner, you don't need makeup. Put on your sweats and pull your hair into a ponytail. Be happy and comfortable with who you are."
On the women he’s written songs about:
"Of course I’ve heard from them. They always come back! Haha! I wrote about this girl in ‘So Sick,’ and I was trying to get in touch with her the whole time the song was on top of the charts but I couldn’t reach her. Then one day, I get a call and it's her, and we start talking.
The song 'Do You' is still about her. I heard she was getting married and having a baby, and I was wondering where she was and asking if, with her new life and everything, she still thinks of me at some point."
On being a ladies' man:
"I wasn't the cool guy; not at all. If we went to high school together, you probably wouldn't even know I existed. But I always had this certain degree of uniqueness. I didn’t want to be part of the cool crowd because I marched to my own rhythm. The confidence with girls came much later in life."