Ryan Leslie may be best known as a ladies’ man (and a child prodigy; he graduated Harvard at 19!), but the singer and producer doesn’t always get the girl.
In fact, on his latest track, “Joan of Arc,” the Harlem-based crooner waxes poetically about one he had to let get away.
“I wake up to detect messages in my email/ This what I get for messing with pretty females,” he sings over stuttered production. “It’s a crazy life, yeah it’s a mad world/ Where good dudes will betray you over a bad girl/ And bad girls’ll take advantage of good dudes.”
The song ends with an actual voicemail message Ryan Leslie received from police asking him to come in for questioning.
“That record is actually based on a personal experience that I went through over that week,” the newly independent artist told MTV News about the track, which he recorded and released in one day. “I actually spent that week in the studio with Ne-Yo, and [Fabolous] came through. That’s how you know I was really going through something because of the creative output. I did four records with Ne-Yo [and the] ‘You Be Killin’ Em’ remix and the ‘Joan of Arc’ record all in the span of five days.”
“Joan of Arc” is darker and more sinister than Leslie’s standard fare, but he manages to execute a kiss-off as effective as Chris Brown’s “Deuces.” He delivers chilly lines more in tune with a rapper than an R&B singer: “They say in love and war, all’s fair/ But when you break up and go out, yeah, they all stare / Obfuscating the real reason we’ve grown apart/ You played the victim so well, Joan of Arc.”
“There’s just an ability to story-tell through rap and poetry, where sometimes you don’t want a note to it,” R.Les explained. “Maybe in certain moments in life you want to sing something. But when you’re upset sometimes or when you really want to get your point across, you don’t want to sing to someone, you want to directly let them know what’s going on and that’s what the ‘Joan of Arc’ record is about.”