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Ryan Leslie Determined to Deliver the Unexpected on 'Les Is More'

Much can be said about an artist who has a reputation that precedes him.
 
Ryan Leslie was a Harvard graduate by the age of 19 and then went on to become a beatmaker for everyone from Britney Spears, Fabolous and Kanye West. He's also a master of strategic social media, responsible for Cassie’s popularity on MySpace and the subject of over 43 million views on YouTube. And now the multi-talented artist has created a new album done entirely his own way.
 
After recently dropping his second video, "Beautiful Lie," out of a 10-part series for the album, Leslie caught up with VIBE.com to explain why he took a different approach in delivering his upcoming project.
 
“I decided to do a visual album because I believe we’re at a time where technology affords an artist to be more expressive,” Leslie said. He returned to the viral vehicle (YouTube) that allowed him to connect with the world musically. “I really had to ramp up that distribution channel to make an album that you could not only listen to, but an album you can watch.”
 
Les Is More  will be Leslie's fourth album to date. He says this project contains more rapping to go along wiht his black-and-white visuals. In his recent “Beautiful Lie" video, Ryan (along with model girlfriend Kenza Fourati) is seen rapping about the good life in Paris, but taking the common term and elevating its meaning into ‘having something to believe in.’
 
Originally, the video was lost when Leslie and his production team came back to New York and even though the second filming cost triple the amount of what it probably should have, Leslie didn’t want to rob his fans of the video. “Evan Rogers, my cinematographer, said ‘Look man, are you ready to fly back to Paris and do this all over again?’ And I’ve never been a quitter.”
 
The DC native’s work ethic speaks for itself. Although his past releases didn’t translate into numbers that record labels equated with success, the now independent artist always acted on his passion.
 
“One of the best pieces of advice that I ever got from a mentor was take everyone’s opinion, listen to everyone’s opinion, but only really take advice from people who are in a position that you want to be in,” Leslie said.
 
He looks to Kanye West as the “benchmark” when it comes to being respected as an artist overall. West, who also started his music career primarily as a producer, is not only a peer but a fan of Leslie’s.
 
“I was making records and when he sent me back an e-mail with an emphatic, ‘Yo man, I love your raps,’ that basically trumped anyone else’s opinion.”
 
 Now with his new album, Ryan does what comes natural once again: the unexpected. “Whatever you were accustomed to hearing before, this album is more.”

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Gucci Mane, XXXTentacion, & More Friday Releases You Need To Hear

Another week, another list of Friday music releases. The week's of 2018 are dwindling, but there is a little more time left for some last-minute music releases. From Gucci Mane, to XXXTentacion, and Ice Cube, here are the albums and singles that you need to hear.

Gucci Mane – Evil Genius

Gucci Mane's 13th studio album is here. The rapper dropped his new project, Evil Genius, featuring an all-star list of talent, including, Quavo, Kevin Gates, Lil Skies and 21 Savage. The LP also features production by Metro Boomin, Murda Beatz and Southside.

The latest music drop marks the perfect finish to an eventful year for Guwop. He previously dropped DropTopWop, Mr. Davis, and El Gato The Human Glacier this year. Even so, the rapper suggested that he wants to make a bang with Evil Genius.

"I think this time, this album was like the first time I kind of had more fun making the records," he said during an interview with Beats 1. "With the intentions of just going in the studio and just had fun and this is what came out. But before, I was kind of going and expressing myself, talking through the mic, like I had a lot of my chest. This album was like, let's find the best beat, make the best song and put it out."

XXXTentacion – Skins

In celebration of XXXTentacion's posthumous album, Skins, his estate and friends through a livestreamed event at 9p.m. EST, featuring Trippie Redd, PnB Rock, Ski Mask the Slump God, Matt Ox and more.

There has been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the late rapper's new release. It's his first since his death in June 2018. The album features only one guest appearance from Kanye West. On the track, which is entitled "On Minute," Ye reportedly addressed abuse allegations brought against X. In support of the album, Kanye also released a Yeezy capsule collection, commemorating their single.

Since X's death he has been regarded as a young legend, gone too soon. His sophomore album ?  peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Listen to Skins below.

Ice Cube – Everythang's Corrupt

Ice Cube is make with Everythang's Corrupt. The album's only feature is OG rapper Too $hort.

Cube already got fan excited after released the one of the LP's single "Arrest the President." The track takes aim at President Trump's corruption and racist policies. The album's cover art features Cube holding a 100-dollar bill in his bloodied hands.

Everythang's Corrupt is Cube's tenth studio album and his first in eight years. It's a follow-up to 2010's I Am the West.

Sneakk Ft. YG & Tyga – "Spray"

New artist Sneak has joind forces with YG and Tyga to bring their new banger "Spray." It's Sneakk's first track released through Def Jam. The single definitely sounds like the new stripper anthem or the perfect track to ride down the block to.

Ahead of the single's release, the rapper's shared a teaser on social media featuring a behind the scenes look at their music video.

Michelle Williams – "Fearless"

Michelle Williams is back. The songstress – best known as a member of the popular girls group Destiny's Child – recently dropped a new solo record entitled "Fearless."

The pop record is an inspirational anthem, encouraging fans to face their fears and chase their dreams. This is a huge moment for Williams, as it is her first single in nearly four years. It also follows an overwhelming year for the singer, who got engaged in Apr. 2018, as well as publicly revealed her battle with depression and mental illness.

Listen to the new track below.

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Premiere: Fuego And A. Chal Take Over The Strip Club In "Dancin" Music Video

Dominican trap artist Fuego has created an ode to the art of stripping with his new single “Dancin,” featuring producer and R&B extraordinaire A. Chal. The visuals for the track are laced with bright blue club lights and brief salacious interludes of voluptuous young ladies dancing provocatively.

The two are seemingly in a never-ending party in efforts to promote strip club etiquette through their tantalizing lyrics. There's no denying that Fuego's sound is reminiscent of today's prominent trap artists like Migos and Future, but he packs in a Latino flair, like his contemporaries Bad Bunny and El Alfa. The Washington D.C. native's sound is similar, but it's worth noting he's been on the scene for a while, steadily etching his mark as his musical prowess rises within hip-hop and Latin audiences.

“For some reason, I've always wanted to do a sound that American hip-hop has, and then break that my way,” he tells VIBE. “When it comes to putting stuff together and making fusions of music, I've done it all my life. When I first started out, I did reggae beats, but I was rapping over them. There’s a little more urban, hip-hop sound in the Latin community. Before, it was mad reggae. It either had to be a tropical type song or reggaeton song. I've always wanted to come out with hip-hop music."

Watch the video for "Dancin" below.

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Noname Tells A Tale Of Black Boy Plight In 'Blaxploitation' Visual

Noname's first music video is better than expected as the artist takes on the topics of dangerous implicit biases toward young men of color.

On Tuesday (Dec. 4), the Chicago rapper/poet released "Blaxploitation," a standout from her critically acclaimed album, Room 25. Directed by Alex Lill (Sampha, Joey Bada$$,  Lil Yachty) and written by Noname, the short film includes homages to Blaxploitation films of the 70s through its the style of multiple frames at once as a toddler wrecks havoc on a small-scale version of Chicago.

The music video gives the metaphorical message of how the black boy is criminalized from the beginning of his life. Even in the joy of imagination, his existence is subjected to a criminal or as the townspeople deem him: a monster baby.

The 27-year-old singer will continue riding high off the critically and streaming success of her debut album Room 25 as she will embark on a 37-city trek across the country and Canada.

The Room 25 tour kicks off in Detriot on Jan. 2nd. Dates can be found here.

READ MORE: Noname To Replace ‘Room 25’ Album Art After Designer Abuse Accusations

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