Wednesday night, Ryan Leslie — R&B and hip hop artist, producer, and founder of NextSelection Lifestyle Group — performed at The Roxy as part of his ongoing nationwide tour. The line outside the venue stretched many buildings down the hill, and the super fans at the head of it bore signs and t-shirts, some of which said “Ryan F**king Leslie.”
Although the doors opened late, everyone raced to the front of the stage, and DJ Kid Peace spun hip hop, soul, and funk to warm up the crowd that filled the venue. My legs stiffened from standing in the same position for an hour after coming through The Roxy’s doors, and my eyes were locked onto the black curtain about four feet away from me, wondering when would it rise and feeling like a little child waiting timelessly in line for a Disneyland ride.
Finally, the curtain rose and an emcee/rap artist named Paypa launched onto the stage. He definitely riled up the audience, and people quickly warmed up to his presence. He even hopped into the pool of listeners, performing for several minutes amongst them. Back on stage and during the end of his set, Paypa introduced his concept of “15 seconds of fame” by having the crowd cheer for themselves. It was a great energizer.
Then, of course, the curtain comes down again and more waiting, but not for too long this time. Behind the curtain was the sound of the piano trickling playfully, teasing the fans. The screams and shouts of the audience molded into a continuous chant for “Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!”
The piano stopped and was replaced by what sounded like an a capella choir as the curtain rose, lights illuminated the stage, and Ryan Leslie, in his black leather jacket and sunglasses, appeared behind a mic. He stripped off his jacket as he began to sing, and fans cheered even more, singing along.
Ryan Leslie may be a hip-hop artist, but he dances like a rock star, banging his head, swinging the microphone stand, and even standing on the piano bench. He emitted a Romeo-like vibe as he held a fan’s hand during a song, flashed his flirtatious smile at the audience, and serenaded the crowd with his sensual falsetto voice. He obviously appreciates romance and even let a fan come up on stage to propose to his partner during “Diamond Girl.”
Ryan Leslie spoke to the audience the way you would imagine he speaks to a friend. In a casual yet honest tone, he told the crowd about how he had left a major label because it limited his creativity, but that transitioning from a major to an indie was tough, like climbing a mountain. He thanked the filled room, saying that Los Angeles had made him feel like a star that night.
Ryan Leslie’s third album Les Is More is set to be released on Oct. 22, 2012. Find out more information about the artist at:
Ryan Leslie’s website