>Ryan Leslie: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Just when you thought that Ivy League schools are cookie-cutter factories where creativity goes to die, out pops Ryan Leslie.  Leslie is a self-taught singer/songwriter/producer from Harlem, N.Y., who graduated from Harvard University in 1998.  He has worked with a slew of artists including Britney Spears, P. Diddy and Beyonce, and even has a few albums out himself.  Of all the musical hats he wears, his producer hat is the most embellished.  He has a natural ear for Pop and R&B, loves the synth and often lends his own voice for hooks or harmonizing.  He has what I like to call the “P. Diddy Syndrome” of producers singing on songs.  But unlike Diddy’s occasional grunts of “Aw…yeah…uh-huh,” Leslie has a smooth singing voice that fits with each track.  You’ll probably recognize his work on Cassie’s “Me & U,” or more recently on Fabulous’ “You Be Killin’ ‘Em.”
Cassie – “Me & U”
Fabolous – “You Be Killin’ ‘Em”
What is as equally impressive as his producing skills is the way in which he manipulates technology and entertainment to promote himself and others.  The man’s a genius when it comes to social media.  He created his own music-media company called NextSelection Lifestyle, and pioneered the whole artist-making-it-big-via-the-internet phenomena.  He used this method to launch singer Cassie’s career through music video blogs, and that exposure catapulted her single “Me & U” to the number 3 spot on the Billboard Top 100.  Like I said before, the man’s a master manipulator of media.  I probably wouldn’t even know who he was if it weren’t for these YouTube videos of him working his magic:
Ryan Leslie makes “Addition”
Ryan Leslie Improvises Over “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne

Just in case you were wondering, those two videos alone have over 5 million views total.  Makes it kind of hard for hip-hop fans to not know who he is, don’t it?  If you go to his website you can see a bunch of in-studio videos like the ones you just saw.  I also read on there that he recently was a panelist for some entertainment and technology summit in Washington, D.C.  He can be booked for lectures, too.  So my question is – when is Leslie coming to Northeastern?

By Courtney Flynn

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