Review: Ryan Leslie is top-notch on 1st rap album

BIANCA ROACH Associated Press Published:

Ryan Leslie, "Les Is More" (NextSelection Lifestyle Group/BDG/RED Distribution)

Ryan Leslie, whose production credits include Cassie's "Me & U" and Fabolous' "You Be Killin Em," proves he's a modern-day maestro with his third album, "Les Is More."

It's the follow-up to his Grammy-nominated R&B album, 2009's "Transition," and it's a fine demonstration of the singer's skills -- his rap skills.

Kicking off with some rock star momentum, Leslie gives us "Glory," a humble, but epic track speaking directly to those who underestimate his musical ability. Frankly, he doesn't care, and it sounds good.

Leslie wrote and produced the entire rap album, which includes high-profile guests like Kanye West and Fabolous, who appears on the remix of the first single, "Beautiful Lie." The piano intro is one you could listen to over and over.

As the Harvard graduate gets deeper into his new sound, he doesn't hold back on his modesty. On "5 Minute Freshen Up," he spits: "And it feels good, that's how I know I made it, overpaid at the same time as I'm underrated."

Another highlight comes from "Dress You to Undress You," which samples Sharon "Terea" Robinson's "Pretty Bird." Leslie's sensuous voice accompanied with guitar riffs make a seductive match.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: If you're down, "Ups and Downs" will surely send you up.