When I take one of my “rap breaks” I tend to turn to r&b/soul tracks so I can keep my ears satisfied. Lately 90’s Slow Jams and the odd Jamie Foxx song have been the go to players. I’ve also developed an appreciation for Ryan Leslie: not only for his singing, but for his production and songwriting skills (outside of rapping) as well.
Sure his “making of” youtubeys are heavily edited and aren’t accurate representations of how a typical studio recording would transpire. What I do appreciate, especially as a hobbyist producer, is the way he builds the songs up track by track. You can see what keyboards and instruments he messes with which is helpful in conceptualizing songs.
Here’s the thing. Dude is capable of composing grandiose works with intricate patterns. But a lot of times you don’t have to go through such ends just to make a good song. Some solid chords, a good clean melody, harmonies that flow well, and a solid bass lineare all you really need to make a good instrumental from the ground up in my opinion. I’m not a songwriter or a singer but I do know a good voice when I hear one. Leslie can definitely hold a tune and is a competent writer. With that said I give “Gibberish” a fun pass since it’s more of a cool way to show how vocals and lyrics can be constructed.
If anything, Leslie’s inherent geekiness shows. It seems like he tries too hard to look cool when he was, for awhile, a man before his years. I mean dude got into Harvard at 16 years old (I think.) It kinda bothers me that he, at least to me, tries to hide all that nerd in him. I mean I was geeky in high school but I wasn’t doing anything at the level he was at that age. Hell i’m still geeky as hell but that’s who I am. With that said R&B heads aren’t trying to follow anyone who isn’t smooth so I can see where the conflict, if any, lies for him.
Did I mention that the man played a HUGE role in introducing the world to Cassie????
Bottom line, Ryan Leslie is cool people in my book.