Ryan Leslie: Les Is More

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Posted October 29, 2012 by in
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Rating

Overall
 
 
 
 
 

2.5/ 5

Details

 
 
 
 
 
 
Genre: R&B, hip-hop
 
Producer: Ryan Leslie
 
Label: NextSelection Lifestyle Group
 
Format: CD, digital download
 
Release Date: 22 October 2012
 
Spin This: Beautiful Lie, Good Girl
 

Pros:

The frustrated R&B singer/producer is trying to grow in a market that's highly condensed with Drake imitations and rap fury, which yields to a different kind of adjustment and musical growth. Production still Neptune-ish
 

Cons:

Rap is still not his strong suit; blocks away from "Diamond Girl"
 

Les Is More is a crazy oxymoron of a title to begin with, especially as he goes for less singing

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Les Is More is a crazy oxymoron of a title to begin with, especially as he goes for less singing

Something happened between Ryan Leslie’s overlooked Transition and his latest experiment Les Is More. Call it yet another transition. At the core, this unexplainable occurrence trades his Neptunes-meets-Justin Timberlake electronic r&b for Kanye West spits. He explains his shift on “Glory,” the live album opener: “You ask me why I’m rapping/Well I’ll give you the reason/The same reason you hating when you should be believing/It’s in your heart to hate, it’s in my heart to win/So yeah I’m rapping now, so let the hatin’ begin.” It’s another reinvention in his short and highly-ignored lifespan in music, but it’s one that feels more like an awkward alter-ego installment (like Halloween III: Season of the Witch was to the Halloween series), rather than a smart continuum in his very limited discography.

For the most part, Les Is More feels more like a copy-and-paste job. He goes for Drake swag on “Good Girl,” where he rhymes, “Gold chains, Imma be a hustler/I promise you I won’t change/You see these $20’s I promise it’s gonna rain.” As the song parades on, he re-focuses his attention on the “haters,” the ever-popular subject in the realm of predictable rap beef. “Dress to Undress You” traces the Lyfe Jennings-esque formula of his laidback slow jams, while sporting sexy pick-up lines like “let me be your Valentino.” But his focus suddenly drifts from dropping panties to dollar worship. And that’s what the adventure is all about: The sex is just the topping on the cake; the cake itself is all about superficial gluttony. That kind of thing works on Kanye West & Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne, but it doesn’t actually work on Isley Brothers slow jams sporting lightweight rap performances.

He does sing the bulk of the choruses like a quintessential hook man, aptly discovered on the Moog synth-driven “Beautiful Lie.” But that two-minute, thirty-four second song, probably one of the better tracks, focuses heavily on his champagne life and newly-crafted braggadocios persona, which seems like an uneasy fit on a guy that’s known to simply serenade and romance his targets. Now he’s grown cockier, becoming an arrogant apprentice walking down the copycat syndrome of modern rap kings, like Rick Ross (“Swiss Francs”).

In the modern r&b game, when singers are exorbitantly vexed with the marketing scam to incorporate A-list rappers to seem relevant, Leslie incorporates Leslie for the emcee role. It’s smart for the live roadshow and smarter in showcasing a new phase of creativity, but he’s too average of a rapper to be taken seriously. In this case, less is more…of a pain.

 


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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