After letting others guide his creative direction on two albums, Lionel Richie plans to take control again on his next recording project.
Producers and writers including StarGate, The-Dream, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Ne-Yo and Akon played key roles on 2006's "Going Home" and the new "Just Go," which comes out Tuesday.
Richie told Billboard.com that he has "already started" on another album, which he intends to helm himself, although he expects to bring in collaborators as well.
"I've mastered the art of co-producing," Richie said. "No matter what, I have to have somebody else that sits across the room and looks at the big picture while I'm going in to get the second verse of the third song. I always need somebody in that room to back me up. James Carmichael did a great job all those years of just keeping me in focus, 'cause that's the key."
Richie said he's been "sketching up some songs" for the project, drawing inspiration from his travels to promote his last few albums. "I go to every great club in the middle of Paris and sit in the corner and watch what people move to," he said. "Then I go to Berlin and check 'em out. I go to London and check 'em out, New Delhi ... And then I go back to the hotel room and, while I'm in that same mood, I start to write.
"I've plugged into a world beat somewhere, so right now this album coming up is gonna be pretty interesting. I can always tell when I'm going in the right direction I scare the record company to death! They're like, 'Now, Lionel, where are you going now?' But I have to keep it interesting for me and my listeners, 'cause it has to be something they're not quite expecting."
Richie plans to record a couple of songs soon with the Dead Executives -- the Good Charlotte duo of Joel Madden (his daughter Nicole's boyfriend and father of Richie's granddaughter) and his twin brother, Benji. He also mentioned European DJ Bob Sinclair as a possible collaborator for club-style tracks.
He just wrapped a European tour for "Just Go.," With only two more shows on the books at the moment June 7 in London and July 5 at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans Richie promises there will be more dates in North America. He expects to announce tour dates during the summer or early fall.
The long-promised Commodores reunion is also in the works, he said. "It's the No. 1 question we get," Richie said. "I can honestly tell you before the end of the year, for sure, you'll hear a rumble. I think now might be the proper time."