Something to rave about 

Hello Ne-Yo; sayonara Studio 980

As the urban-music capital of the South, metropolitan Atlanta draws its share of celebrities shopping for second homes, from Bay Area singer Keyshia Cole to rap icons such as DJ Red Alert and Chuck D. You can add Shaffer "Ne-Yo" Smith to the list.

"This is where the industry is coming," Ne-Yo said during a recent conversation before a private concert at the Tabernacle. "Anything that's not here, New York is an hour-and-change flight away."

In the winter of 2005, Ne-Yo became an R&B star with the lovely "So Sick," a No. 1 hit single that drove his debut, In My Own Words, to platinum sales. Quickly capitalizing on his teen-idol status, he joined the cast of the step-dancing flick Stomp the Yard (along with Chris Brown, Meagan Good and others). As the movie was filmed at Atlanta colleges such as Morehouse, Clark Atlanta and Morris Brown, Ne-Yo fell in love with the city.

"That whole Southern hospitality thing is not a myth. This is a place where you can say hi to someone in the street, and they just might say hi back. Whereas in New York, they think you're trying to get something from them, and in L.A. everyone is too snooty to say hi," Ne-Yo says. Originally from Las Vegas, Ne-Yo lived in Los Angeles before moving here. "It's a fast yet slow city. It's slow enough to take time to be cordial to another person, yet fast enough for the industry to try and move over here."

Ne-Yo is currently preparing for the Tuesday, May 1, release of his second album, Because of You. He also has several songwriting assignments from Brown, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Celine Dion, Usher and Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls on deck. "With the success of the first album, I've been moving around so much, I've only slept in my bed in my house here seven times," he said.

WE HARDLY KNEW YE: Most people (including, until recently, yours truly) have never heard of Studio 980. For the past several months, the Westside multidisciplinary arts space hosted a series of after-hours parties that often drew hundreds of people. Some of the nationally known DJs who came through included Rich Medina, Ron Trent and Angel Alanis. For a city sorely lacking a legitimate electronic-music scene, it was a much-needed outlet.

Unfortunately, Studio 980 closed its doors on Saturday, April 21, with a final rave blowout hosted by Playground ATL Productions. "We're going through renovations," says Michael "Ryze" Robinson, the house DJ who co-managed the venue with several others. "We'll reassess the building after that."

Ryze wants to turn Studio 980 into a legitimate dance-music venue with a liquor license. Until it closed, it was a modest underground spot that sold soda and water. However, he says he'll consider finding a new building if that space won't be possible. Either way, wish him luck.

RANDOM NEWS: Thanks to her bubbling radio single "My Bubble Gum," veteran rapper Rasheeda signed with Imperial Records. Her new album, Dat Type of Gurl, is set for a June 19 release. ... Fresh off his VH1 "Celebrity Fit Club 4" appearance, Bone Crusher will drop a new album, Free, on July 17 via his Vainglorious Entertainment. ... At the CMT Music Awards, Sugarland won Duo Video of the Year for "Want To." ... Several Atlanta musicians were honored at the 2007 ASCAP Pop Music Awards, including Johnta Austin and Jermaine Dupri, both of whom were named Songwriter of the Year. ... Christian metal band Silas Marner is calling it quits. The group plays its final show Friday, April 27, at the 7 Venue.

CD RELEASES: Progressive rock band Liquid Jungle celebrates Tiny Heaven Saturday, April 28, at Vinyl. Josh Roberts and the Hinges open.


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