Thursday, February 12, 2009

Next Selection

Ryan Leslie - Ryan Leslie

With all the recent talk about the young prince of R&B getting slap happy and stupidly ruining his career over teenage drama there's still a lot of sympathy for the young boy. I can admit I get a sinking feeling whenever I see the young, Black and talented take a downward spiral, regardless of whose at fault. But, to the left I say, to the left. There's other talented cats out there who can't quite dance but who are better musicians and just as light skinned (I'm not saying it matters but whatever helps), they just may be lacking a bit in the charm department. Enter R. Les. The Nerd. A Weirdo. He's incredibly talented and incredibly slept on. I've discussed how his social skills or lack thereof may be holding him back but most likely forces greater than that (Diddy) are the reason this boy has had limited success because quite frankly the entertainment business is supposed to be a refuge for social deviants and he certainly isn't the first of them …or the most repulsive.

This brings me to Ryan Leslie's self titled album, the follow up to the 2005 release, Just Right which apparently never reached stateside. The album has all the innovative funk balanced at just the right hit-making tempo's that we've come to expect from R. Les. He makes music that suits his nasal vocals and even when he raps you don't quite cringe as much as you thought you would. Clever and self deprecating lines like "If my record don't sell, we'll still go diamond" only endear me to Mr. Leslie further. His album has an electric mellow sound that calls upon his skills as a producer. The tracks don't ever exceed the almost spastic energy of 'Diamond Girl' nor do they sink lower than the sparing synth intensity of Addiction but this isn't a criticism, he simply has an even center he remains in for most of the album. He utilizes the electric guitars on 'Quicksand' and any number of sound FX kits on the track and croons about some pretty girl that he's pining after yet again, but it's really one of my favorite joints on the album in spite of his rhyming emotional with emotional over and over again. You can actually listen to the whole album through and not really be conscious of anything he's said. It's not that his lyrics are awful, they just aren't really important. Leslie seems to layer the vocals over the track as if they were any other instrument, using whatever words sound right. As if to make a point about the irrelevance of the lyrics in his song making process he includes a track titled ' Gibberish' where he basically talks out of his ass about 'lust' 'love' and 'moonlight' and 'ghosts?' There really aren't any words and yes I sat there like an ass for 1:12 trying to figure out if he actually was saying something relevant, but he wasn't. The point is the track was aight in spite of that and I'll give him his props for that, and for tricking me. Honestly, I could attempt to describe how there's comfort in the complexity and the simplicity of the music of R. Les but you really should just cop the album.

Favorite Tracks

Diamond Girl, Addiction, Quicksand