Ryan Leslie: Mogul is an Understatement
Wearing multiple hats is almost a requirement now. Artists are almost always involved in some other endeavor. Whether a rapper is backing a clothing line or an actor takes his shot at singing, artists are rarely absorbed with only one task. Then there are the artists like Ryan Leslie who make professional grade multi-taskers look like amateurs.
Leslie is most noted for his work while producing singer Cassie through Bad Boy Records, but his production efforts don’t stop there. Leslie has worked with many stars like Beyoncé and Britney Spears. He started producing for a student at Berklee College of Music and was eventually paid to work on the full album. That kicked off Leslie’s production career. He met Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2003 and worked as a staff producer with him for two years. This is how Leslie paid the bills.
Like many producers, the urge to get into the music industry stems from a long love affair with the art. His first instrument was the cornet, a trumpet-like brass instrument. Eventually he took up piano after being inspired by his mother’s piano skills and sister’s choice to learn the same instrument.
“My piano is like my best friend. I remember before I even had any furniture in my house, I went to the Steinway building and picked out that piano, and it was my first piece of furniture in my new apartment. During those late nights, man, it always listens to me,” Leslie said with GQ Magazine.
Even though production is where most find Leslie’s talent, he is a bit more passionate about performing. I feel most comfortable as a performer. Even my studio sessions become imaginative experiences in which I visualize the performance of the song at this festival or that award show. Usually you’ll find me embellishing on any record I’ve produced, creating live outros or arrangements as though I was performing live for a huge audience beyond the onlookers in the studio with me,” the musician told Interview Magazine. In Leslie’s music, one thing is certain – the composition and instrumentation come first. The melodies and harmonies with arrangements are creative and occasionally complex. Instead of sticking with this formula forever, the musician wanted to explore the power of words. Thus, his rap career was born.
While it’s common to hear someone rap about his expensive lifestyle, this often comes across as bragging. For Leslie, rapping about his girlfriend, his cars and all the luxurious travel destinations is a life experience worth sharing with other people. This is more of an inspirational brag.
“I can only write about the experiences that I’m having and I do understand that the way that I live is unique to me. I share it with the world in effort to be aspirational and inspirational with this level of work ethic. And with this level of attention to the artistic contribution, anything is possible and so I do it for everybody that actually applauds my work. And I think if you actually dig deeper, you’ll realize that there’s a human undertone to everything,” Leslie said with hip-hop news website Hiphop-N-More.
If singer/songwriter/rapper/producer weren’t enough for you, the musician also started NextSelection, a media and marketing company. Everything from music and video production to branding and website development is covered by NextSelection. “I think that they go hand-in-hand. I would not be complete if I didn’t do all of them. I’ve always been a multi-tasker,” Leslie told About.com in an interview.
You’re probably thinking that this kind of ability requires one smart guy, right? Exactly. On top of being an accomplished musician, producer and, now, entrepreneur, the New York based media mogul also has a degree in Government and Economics from Harvard University. He graduated at age 19. It was at Harvard where he performed in the Krokodiloes, an a cappella singing group.
In order to keep up with the fast paced media world, Leslie also does video blogs. “Blogging is something that allows us to document life. When you look at a lot of successful films, books, a lot of them relate to the experiences of others. There have been other video blogs, but this one’s a first of its kind from a music standpoint,” the mogul told About.com.
With his focus on musicianship, Leslie is a leading force in the music industry. With his knowledge and experience in the business side of the art, he’s got a way to make his success stick. Now, he’s sharing that information via video blogs. Ryan Leslie is a great asset to the industry and possibly a great threat – he’s got the talent and brains to single-handedly take over the entire industry.