Ryan Leslie Determined to Deliver the Unexpected on ‘Les Is More’ (PG.2)


Vibe | December 14, 2011 - 6:17 pm

He also reintroduces the rap talents that fans have heard on previous tracks, such as “Christian Dior Denim Flow.” The song, which included Leslie, West, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Lloyd Banks, Cyhi Da Prynce and John Legend, received positive praise from listeners. Leslie originally held down eight bars on the G.O.O.D. Friday track, but boasted 12 on the re-released version. He deemed the rapper-heavy joint “one of the great moments in and of itself in Ryan rap history” And a good indicator that he was on the right path.

“It’s my goal with this record to raise the bar for what we expect an artist to do,” Leslie said, not just posing a challenge to himself but to evolve as an artist. The extreme example of a one-man band, he handles all aspects of his work from thinking up the concept, constructing the beat and laying down the vocals. In fact, he was also is hands on with executing the video and editing it on Final Cut Pro. Not many can do the same.

In terms of collaborations, Leslie said Mr. Hudson appears on the track “Breathe.” However, he emphasizes that Les Is More is a solo project that chronicles his life, journey, travels and relationships. Another record “Swiss Francs,” includes French rapper Booba and showcases Leslie’s bilingual flow, incorporating some French into his wordplay.

Leslie also partners with style heavyweights John Galliano, Balmain and Lanvin to depict a luxurious rap lifestyle in his videos. However, he has not forgotten his humble beginnings and still recalls the whirring sound of his mother’s sewing machine on the first days before school. “My mother used to take fabrics and she would literally sew our clothes for us (he and his sister),” Leslie said, citing it as his first fascination with creating a quality garment. Since then, his mama-made attire has now evolved into custom-made suits in Italy.

Another person you can expect to see plenty of on Les Is More is his girlfriend. Fourati, who has been featured in “Beautiful Lie,” also stars in the upcoming “Good Girls,” set to drop before New Year’s. The song contains self-explanatory lyrics written by the rapper to his own: “Same time next year, I’ll be hopin’ that you’re still here/ But a little better than we did this year because baby you’re my good girl.”

Leslie constantly shifts the focus to his music, no matter what he may be facing in his personal life. As seen in concerts and online videos, his live performances emit an electricity that seems effortless. With that much energy on-stage, VIBE.com was curious to know how he preps beforehand.

“To be completely honest with you, I probably have the most inexpensive rider list of all time – all I need is a bottle of water,” Leslie said, admitting that his entourage often complains that he never touches anything in the dressing room. Although the list is nowhere near as lengthy as Drake’s, it has slightly grown to include peanut M&Ms, chicken wings and other tiny amenities, but his only prerequisites remain water and a couple of towels before rocking a show. “I’m there to work.”

Despite the record label setbacks and opinions from naysayers, it’s that disciplined mentality that has allowed Leslie to be an artist of all trades. With Les Is More, fans can expect to see and hear him as they never had before. –Adelle Platon

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