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Monday, August 11, 2008

Artist Spotlight: Boy Genius, Ryan Leslie

Ryan Leslie has a lot of names, “Harvard’s Hip-Hop Hustler,” “Hip-Hop’s new star maker,” “Business Man,” call Mr. Leslie any of the aforementioned names, because he embodies all the titles. He’s Harvard’s Hip-Hop Hustler because at the age of 15 he started his Ivy League career with a perfect SAT score and a love for Hip-Hop music. He’s Hip-Hop’s new star maker because he’s a sought after producer (he’s produced for Diddy, New Edition, Britney Spears) and he created as he called a “musical vessel” with R&B star, Cassie (“Working with Cassie was a perfect marriage, the best way to get my music out and heard," he says). Leslie is a businessman because he is ready to take over the music industry not only by switching his title from producer to artist but by also starting his own multi- media company, Next Selection Lifestyle Group. After speaking with Mr. Leslie it is clear of who has now and next.

During the interview, Leslie always refers back to his videos on Ryan Leslie TV found on YouTube, it’s a collection of clips that showcase his process of making music. Watching Leslie scrambled around his Harlem apartment from keyboard, to microphone, to boards, to computer is infectious. Take his clip of making, “I Get Money” he first orders a miniature trumpet to be hand delivered to his apartment and then he starts with chords, followed by the trumpet and then he finally lays down the verses. In the making of “Gibberish” you see Leslie running around the studio from instrument to instrument, forget about Swizz, maybe Leslie is truly the one man band. Just the melody of “Gibberish” and his voice running through a strict pitch correction processor a la’ T-Pain will have you salivating for the full song. YouTubers are leaving comments pronouncing their love for the song where Leslie literally speaks gibberish, he says unintelligible syllables to lay down a guide melody during the creative process and even though its not the full song, you get the sense that Leslie has produced his own hit.

It seems that with everything Leslie does, its planned and meticulous, from his producing to this interview. Leslie speaks slowly as if he wants to say just the right thing to describe his music and style. Obviously excited about his album, Leslie explains that it’s a compilation of hard work; a reflection of self, maturity and it shows exactly who he is right now. Leslie states that he has always been an artist before being a producer, “ I was always the artist, I started as an artist. I did the research and realized that I couldn’t afford producers, so I started to produce for myself.”

He describes his style as classic music that should inspire with stories of love. His video for his first single, “Diamond Girl” shows the direction of Ryan Leslie, he reenacts James Brown’s 1966 Ed Sullivan Show performance and after his “Diamond Girl” leaves him, Leslie sings, “Irnia” the girl who helps him get his swag back. Though he still shows signs of a love lost thus the album continues to boasts of love songs. “Addiction” is mid-tempo Cassie featured song where Leslie and Cassie just can’t get enough of each other. Leslie showcases his falsetto on “Valentine” where he finally accepts that his ex has moved on but he realizes that he still loves her.

Leslie is a busy man, while interviewing him, he asks me to hold on as his thumbs through his blackberry to find out what time his next meeting starts and the schedule for the rest of his day. Not wanting to keep R. Les for too long, he leaves me with these lasting words, “I want my album to speak for itself, it’s very easy to be a salesman but my records speak for themselves. Visit my myspace, my youtube channel and I hope you find my music inspirational and I hope it will evoke emotions.”

Ryan Leslie drops September 16, 2008.

Check how he makes a song up on the spot for his mother on Mother’s Day:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i have to check dude out. nice article.