To be honest I don’t usually like going to listening parties because they tend to be filled with really douchey industry people who try to hard to be cool.  However, when I got the invite to Ryan‘s party I had to go.  Although Mr. Leslie isn’t technically a “new” artist he has just recently popped up on my radar, and has managed to peak my interest.  Ryan just has this sophisticated swagger about himself, that isn’t really being duplicated by anyone else in the R&B game.  Who else in R&B graduated from Harvard when they were 19, as well as writes and produces their own material?  Let me repeat that, he writes and produces all of his material.  He’s not just some entertainer that sings and dances, he is an ARTIST.

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Inherently this album is the story of a secret romance that comes to an end, which leads to a transition in Ryan‘s life.  Hence the album title.  So as with any good story the album revolves around Ryan’s journey of seducing this mystery woman, achieving a certain level of intimacy until they inevitably realize that it won’t work out.

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The thing that made the listening party such a unique experience was Ryan’s outstanding passion, honesty, and video content to help drive the story.  He seemed to have camera’s rolling whenever he was in the studio so while he is explaining the backstories of various songs he could literally show us video footage of the creative process.

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Plus he had these phenomenal little quips about his inspiration for songs.  For example he had made plans to meet this mystery woman for dinner on a Sunday night at the Mandarin Oriental overlooking Central Park (not to shabby).  However he was in a studio session with Drake, and forgot to make a reservation.  So he ends up late to this dinner without a reservation, and gets completely dissed by the staff at the restaurant.  So how does the boy Ryan jump back from a monumental fail such as this?  By serenading her on the car ride home (I believe he whips a G wagon), and hitting up the black card concierge service to fill his living room with flowers.  This then became the inspiration for his song “Sunday Night”.  He had stories similar to this for every song.  Trust me if Ryan Leslie takes a liking to you girl, you’re f*cked.  No way you can compete with her getting picked up in the G Wagon while he throws dinner at the Mandarin Oriental on the black card. Might as well throw some bouquets of roses on there as well.  I thought that stuff only happened in movies?  Anyway…

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Ryan is just one of those people that has an aura about him.  He kept reiterating the importance of how this album was such an artistic experience to him, and how passionate about it he was.  That was what I really liked the most about the listening party.  Finally we have an artist in the urban demographic talking about art.  Because at the end of the day that’s what this is supposed to be.  He also acknowledged how irrelevant radio was, and stressed the importance of live performances.  This is really the template for success in this new climate of music.  Ryan doesn’t make crappy music that will get the label to invest millions on radio play, and ultimately end up irrelevant in 4 months.  Ryan makes music that is timeless.  I don’t know if he will put up big sales numbers, but I do think he is really solidifying his brand.  I honestly believe that Ryan is here to stay, so I recommend that on November 3rd you go out, pick up that album, and get familiar.

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Also I’m pretty sure the sequencing of this track list is wrong, but whatever.

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In stores November 3rd.  Ryan Leslie is the man.  The hottest dude in R&B in my opinion.  Check out the preview links if you don’t believe me.

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Track List:

01. Never Gonna Break Up
02. Something That I Like (feat. Pusha T)  Preview Link
03. Zodiac
04. Is It Real Love?
05. Sunday Night
06. You’re Not My Girl  Preview Link
07. To The Top
08. Nothing
09. Guardian Angel
10. All My Love  Preview Link
11. I Choose You