Singer and acclaimed songwriter Ne-Yo sat down with Joe Budden on his popular web series, Pull Up, to talk about his music, his career and his family life. The latter topic required him to delve into his recent split from wife Crystal Smith (maiden name Williams). He addressed that split in his recent single “Pinky Ring” where he sings, “She gave back the wedding ring / I turned it to a pinky ring” and “I do not feel bad / I gave her everything / Now it’s on to better things.”
During the lengthy interview (90 minutes), the 40-year-old crooner said the song was based on the reality that she did actually return her wedding ring, and he claimed there was no pettiness involved in the creation of the track.
“The song is talking about me and how I’m handling what could be a sad situation if I allow it to be that,” he said. “I’m looking at it from the positive angle of she gave back the wedding ring, that means I’m not married no more. As opposed to sitting and being sad about it, I’m going to flip it. I’m going to keep it pimping. I’m going to move.”
When Budden expressed surprise at Smith returning the ring on her own, noting that he had to wait on the courts to get him his engagement ring back from Cyn Santana, Ne-Yo said she’s not the type he would have had to fight for the ring back from. (Who knew people returned wedding rings anyway?)
“She’s never been petty like that,” he said. “She’s never been money petty like that. That’s not her.”
When asked by Budden what was behind things not working out between them, specifically, what he did, he claimed they both realized together they individually didn’t have the tools to make it work.
“Without incriminating myself, without incriminating her and without putting any negative connotation on this, I will say that neither one of us was exactly who we needed to be in order for this to last, and that’s why it didn’t. Bottom line,” he said. “I own mine, she owns hers, and the craziest thing is there’s no beef, there’s no animosity there’s no love last because we both understand that.”
He changed his tone though and admitted even if she had a little beef on her side, they could at least agree to keep things peaceful to keep them from getting to a place of hating each other — for their kids’ sake.
“I have zero beef. I have no beef,” he said. “I can’t speak on her, I can’t speak on her decisions, I can only speak on the fact that there’s no animosity here.”
Speaking of what was for the sake of the kids, Ne-Yo said he had to leave the relationship to keep everyone from suffering.
“The boat that I am the captain of, there’s a lot of people on this boat. There’s a lot of people that rely on this boat staying afloat. In order for that to happen, I must maintain my sanity, I must maintain the tempo at which my heart beats,” he said. “I must maintain and if it gets to a point where a relationship is making it difficult to maintain, then it becomes that I have to do this for the kids because if I go down, everybody goes down, including the kids. So I have to walk away for the sake of the kids. Not entirely for the sake of the kids, but that’s part of the thought process.”
But overall, Ne-Yo says he’s feeling really good these days, which is not a knock to his estranged wife, but a testament to him trying to stay as positive as possible.
“I am not miserable at all. I am in a great space,” he said. “There’s nothing miserable about realizing what works for you and what doesn’t. Ain’t nothing bad about that. It doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It doesn’t have to be a sad thing. I prefer to stay on the positive side of the energy. We know they both exist and you have to acknowledge the negative, but you don’t have to dwell.”
The couple wed in 2016 and had two sons together, Shaffer and Roman. He also shares two other children, Madilyn and Mason, from his previous relationship with ex-girlfriend Monyetta Shaw.