Both Ne-Yo and Johnta Austin are responsible for some of the best R&B tunes we’ve heard in our lifetimes. At times music consumers are only aware of the artists who perform the songs we love, but few are attentive to the composers who those classic melodies. Two of R&B’s bests took to Instagram Live Sunday night for a classic showdown. A number of artists tuned in to see this showdown such as Drake, Jermaine Dupri, Swizz Beatz and more.
Before the world knew Ne-Yo as the fedora-wearing hitmaker, he was penning songs for the likes of Marques Houston, Mary J. Blige, Musiq Soulchild and more. After writing Mario’s Hot 100 chart-topper “Let Me Love You,” Ne-Yo got his breakthrough and was signed to Def Jam as an artist. The rest is history.
Johnta Austin was signed by RCA Records as a teenager. During that time, he wrote Tyrese’s “Sweet Lady.” Following He then went on to write songs for Aaliyah, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown and more.
During the battle, the two singer-songwriters played 17 songs each for 90 seconds. Both Grammy Award-winning saved their best for last. Austin’s last 5 songs were from Aaliyah, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey. Mary’s “Be Without You” and Mariah’s “We Belong Together” respectively are two record breakings songs that spent countless weeks atop the Hot 100 charts. Austin received writing credits for both. On the other hand, Ne-Yo’s final 5 consisted of himself, Beyonce and Mario. Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” and Mario’s “Let Me Love You” both topped the Hot 100 charts for multiple weeks.
The battle was too close to decide a clear winner. Instead, it was a win for the culture. Thanks to Ne-Yo and Johnta Austin for their trendsetting pens. The R&B genre has and will continue to fill our hearts with love.