Ryan Leslie: Diamond in the Rough

Perhaps the resume of a music hopeful praying for superstardom in 2008 should detail how well they can multitask. Within the past several years, while witnessing the large scale success stories of singer/songwriter/producers like Ne-Yo and singer/songwriters like Amy Winehouse, it would seem that multitasking is the music business’ newest craze. Before the end of 2008, music fans will see releases from songwriters Keri Hilson and Sean Garrett. Not to be outdone by his multitasking counterparts, singer /songwriter /producer Ryan Leslie is gearing up for his feverishly anticipated self-titled debut album. Ryan Leslie is all business when the cameras roll on the set of his music video. With his large lens designer shades and black bomber jacket which compliments his small frame, he looks every bit the star many think he is destined to be. Finally someone yells “Lunch break!” Suddenly video models and crew from the video scramble to go get food and a little bit of rest before they begin shooting again in approximately 45 mins. Then from across the set, escorted by only his publicist, Ryan walks over and extends a friendly hand. “Hey, What’s going on, I’m Ryan Leslie.” He says.Ryan’s path to the music industry is much different than most. At the mere age of 15, Ryan scored a 1600 on his SATs and was accepted to Harvard University where he would graduate with honors. “I think it’s definitely important for artists to educate themselves,” explains the Harvard Alum. “If they just want to stick to the creative side, they need to make sure they have a team of folks that are savvy, forward thinking, and understanding of the landscape of the industry.” “The most clear, definitive difference between me and any other producer turned artist is I have been on this album and continue to be self contained,” Leslie explains about what distinguishes him from the onslaught of multi-taskers slated to hit record shelves. Ryan utilized several major recording studios during his work on the album, but much of the work was done at his studio in his Harlem brownstone.

“This album was written, arranged, produced, and performed by me. It speaks to a variety of personal experiences. That’s why my album is self titled Ryan Leslie because it really is all me.”

"Addiction" is Ryan’s single currently heating up the airwaves, which features Fabolous and his protégé Cassie. “The song actually started off about the obsessive relationship I have with music.” Leslie says of his current hit. “And the biggest record that I had [Cassie’s "Me & U"] was a record where [Cassie] was singing music that I had written and I thought it was only right for us to have another collaboration in the market place.”"I am someone that is in relentless pursuit of creating the best content that I can," Leslie says of his drive. He continues, “I definitely believe that with this album I am standing at the doorway of opportunity to really do something great and offer something that is going to be impactful and offer something of value to the music landscape. My aspiration is to one day be mentioned in the same breath as those who came before me and paved the way.” Ryan mentions as he ponders his future, “I also would hope that I can be an example of someone that really pursued the idea of the American Dream, being that I was able to make my passion my profession."