You may not be familiar with ’s face, but you’re probably familiar with some of the songs he helped make into hits.
The 29-year-old writer/producer has worked with artists such as Cassie, Beyoncé and Danity Kane. Now he’s ready to take his act out from behind the scenes and prove that he can make hits for himself too.
“I’ve always heard that an overnight success takes 10 years, so this whole thing that’s happening right now is like a whirlwind for me,” he told MTV News. “For the people to be responding to the music that I’m making, with me actually performing it, is really overwhelming, and it’s good.”
Earlier this summer, Leslie showed everyone what he was made of when the video for his song “Diamond Girl” hit YouTube. Now he is looking forward to the release of his debut album, Ryan Leslie, out September 16.
“I feel like I’m sitting at the door of an opportunity to really contribute something to the music marketplace and to the landscape of pop culture and the future.”
The first single, “Addiction,” isn’t as licentious as the name suggests. For Leslie, his addiction is making music, not partying.
” ’Addiction’ came about one night after I’d gone to several different spots in New York City. One night after doing that, that energy and excitement was in me, and instead of going home, I went straight to the studio, man,” he said.
“I don’t drink or smoke, so the way that I creatively express myself is to get right in the studio,” he continued. “I wanted to create a track that captured that frenetic energy and electricity that I had experienced that night.”
Leslie shot the video for “Addiction” with Fabolous, who collaborated with him on the song. Leslie is already in talks to produce the rapper’s next album.
“We ain’t gonna reveal it right now, but he came to me with a concept. He was talking about change and the election and everything,” Ryan said. “But this concept album that he’s talking about right here is really gonna change the way people listen to hip-hop.”
Fabolous hopes that his concept helps prove that hip-hop is not dead but rather a thriving musical form.
“A lot of people were saying that hip-hop is dead, but I never really felt hip-hop is dead,” he said. “It’s really how you strategically set up your albums. With me, I feel like I have new ways to touch my fanbase this time, and every year there’s new ways.”
But for right now, the spotlight is on Leslie, who’s hoping that music fans get addicted to him this time around.
“At the end of the day, ’Addiction’ is about anything that makes you feel that type of way,” he said. “And it could be a relationship, but for me it’s music.”