Ryan Leslie's built a decade-long resume as a songwriter and producer putting out tracks for New Edition, Britney Spears and Danity Kane. Now, the man behind the boards is stepping out to make a name for himself on the mic.
SOHH caught up with the multi-talented music man as he shared his humble industry beginnings, his endless grind, and the video for his hit single "Diamond Girl."
With "Diamond Girl" as the first single off of Leslie's self-titled debut album due out in the spring, the producer/song writer already has a hit on his hands. The official video just hit YouTube a few days ago. [Watch Below]
"We had to pull that video off in a hurry because the record really just grew at an incredible rate," Leslie told SOHH.
Moving from producer to singer has been almost seamless for Leslie. Music is his life.
"It's something that drives me to wake up and drives me not to sleep ... I put in 22 hour days," he said. "I'm always in the studio."
It's the same work ethic he's had for his music since he first got into production in college. He didn't have the same love for his school work, though.
The young Harvard grad - he completed a degree in Government and Economics at age 19 -- was on academic probation three times because he spent more time on his music than in his books. But after graduating and moving back home, his dad loaned him the money to buy some recording equipment and Leslie went to work. He landed a month-long internship in New York City, where someone played a few of his tracks for Sean "Diddy" Combs.
His meeting with Diddy launched his career. Since then, the man on the boards has produced for Beyoncé, Britney Spears, JoJo, Nina Sky, Danity Kane, Snoop Dogg and others. He's most known for Cassie's chart topping hit "You & Me." The Bad Boy songstress is also an artist on Leslie's own Next Selection Lifestyle Group record label.
Since making music in college, he hasn't switched his style up. It's still all Ryan Leslie.
"I do everything, I write, I produce, I engineer, it's all me," he said.
His debut album is no different. There's not one guest producer on the project.
"I feel like the music should represent the artist and this is the way I've always done it, so why change it now?"
Ryan Leslie's self titled debut is due in stores June 17.
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