Ryan Leslie Q&A (Pg. 3)
I wouldn’t say that he influenced it; I would say that he validated it. I spent the last week and a half in the studio every night soaking up whatever I could soak up from the entire thing. From him doing his film to doing the G.O.O.D Fridays thing to being there for the collaboration on the Lloyd Banks new single “Start It Up” to—I did all of that in addition to doing two records with Jasmine Villegas to doing another independent project to actually doing all the stuff that I’m doing to set up my musical tracks for my tour. I just did it all. So he’s probably one person who I would say shares the sensibility and the passion for exactly what I was feeling, and to see that actually manifested was validating and reassuring and encouraging. I believe that my experiences in the studio over the last week and a half doing all of these projects and at six o’clock in the morning, when my studio [session] is over, I could still hit ‘Ye and be like, ‘Yo! Where are you at’ and he’s at his edit then I know that there are other people in the world that are that committed and that passionate.
Have you heard Kanye’s album?
Yeah, I heard the album. I think that he should speak on his own album. He should be the person that really is the messenger. First of all, I think the music should speak for itself, and if he does choose to speak about it, he can speak about it. But I’ve heard it, I’m really excited about it and I’ve seen the work he’s put into it—the revisions and what everyone knows and expects from Kanye. The perfectionist and someone that’s really, really passionate about his artistic and creative vision.
You said you played some of your material for Swizz and Kanye. What’s been the feedback and how did it help you?
It was really good feedback. I’m very sparing with feedback because, at the end of the day, I’ve never really done music for… As an artist, we all do music because we want to entertain people and we want to make peple feel good. We appreciate the adulation. For me, I was a nerd growing up. Straight up. Coke-bottle glasses, retainer, head gear, the whole nine yards, but when I got on stage rapping and singing, that’s when it was like, ‘Oh, okay. Well, Ryan’s actually cool. He’s entertaining us.’ So I am very cognizant that that’s the root of it and at this point now, you have to grow up because you’re not doing it for that reason anymore. That’s what you did it for when you were a child. Now you've matured, so now you have to do it for reasons beyond that very surface reason. So it’s just very encouraging when other artists can appreciate it and validate it by even listening to it and giving feedback or constructive feedback. But even still, for the new music, I really want the music to speak for itself. The stuff that you’ve heard already, we’ve had a really good response to it.
Have you worked with Nicki Minaj at all or plan to?
No, I would love to work with her. If you have a contact or if she reads this or hears this interview or whatever and she wants to reach out to me, I’m on Twitter, I’m on Facebook, it’s easy to reach me. It’s very easy to reach me if somebody wants to work, so I would love to work with Nicki. I like what she’s doing, and I think we could make records that are relevant for pop culture, or we could just do a fun record. Whatever she wants to do. I think we could have a fun time collaborating.
Kanye said Lloyd Banks is underrated and should be top 5 rappers. Do you agree?
I really, really, really like Banks. When I think about Nas, when I was really getting introduced to hip-hop—I really got introduced around Tribe Called Quest, Nas, DJ Premier, Gang Starr. When I listen to Nas and then I listen to Banks’ flow, I really hear echoes of that time and how excited I was about hip-hop when I first heard those records. I’m not gonna sit here and say that I’m some sort of hip-hop documentarian or historian, I just know the records that I really liked. And I listen to Banks’ flow and I can hear echoes of those records and that sort of rhyme sensibility, so I had a really enlightening and enriching time working with him in the studio, and I’m really excited to see how this “Start It Up” record is gonna do for him. He came off with “Beamer, Benz Or Bentley.” It went gold digitally, but I’m really excited to see… He has a great line-up around him on this next single. Between ‘Ye, Swizz, Fab [and] myself there’s just a lot of integrity right there. There’s a lot of strong, real artistic contribution historically just in those names. I like that for him and I’m excited for him.
You mentioned leaving Universal. Are you unsigned right now?
Yeah, I’m signed to myself, which is Next Selection. I’m enjoying the freedom of being totally independent. I appreciate that I’ve built enough respect and goodwill that I can still collaborate with the people that I’ve been collaborating with without any sort of stigma attached. I’m very, very thankful, humbled, honored that I’ve been able to build a reputation for myself musically that I’m still able to freely work with folks and produce and rap can continue to do what I do which is make the best music I know how to make.
Any chance of a G.O.O.D. Music signing?
There really hasn’t been any discussion or an offer or anything made. I mean, right now it’s been really music driven. I think signings are very business-driven: ‘Hey, we can make money with somebody. Let’s make the investment. Let’s put the loan. Let’s make the advances and then let’s rock.’ If those conversations occur and I feel like talking about them and an announcement gets made, I’m sure you’ll hear about it.