Newest Review: ... more soul to it and I found Transition to be a bit of a downwards step and I remember at the time he wanted to make a ballad as he felt b... more
The Harvard Grad Enters The Music Game
Transition - Ryan Leslie
Member Name: bhayanid
Transition - Ryan Leslie
Date: 31/10/12, updated on 01/11/12 (55 review reads)
Advantages: A lot of catchy tracks
Disadvantages: Vocally slightly lacking
Before I go in to the album I want to give you a quick breakdown of Ryan Leslie and his background as it is a unique story for an R&B/hip-hop artist. Ryan Leslie was a very smart kid. By smart I don't meant normal level straight A student, this kid was a genius and scored a 1600 on his SATS at the age of 14 which is the highest possible mark you can get. He was offered a place at Harvard in Political science and macroeconomics at the age of 15. He dreamed of becoming president. He graduated by 19 and during his time at university he started to hone his musical talent. After university his parents wanted him to become a banker, but he said to them to give him one year to see if he can make it a musician and if he doesn't make it, then well I guess the rest is history.
Ryan Leslie composes, plays every instrument for his tracks, writes the lyrics, raps, sings, edits his own music videos, directs them, as you can see he really does it all and this can be seen on his more recent album les is more which I will be reviewing soon. It is quite rare to see someone this smart in the music game, when you consider than 99% of his fellow R&B standards are hardly role models to follow (yes I'm talking about you Chris Brown).
Ryan Leslie's previous album earlier in 2009 had a bit more soul to it and I found Transition to be a bit of a downwards step and I remember at the time he wanted to make a ballad as he felt ballads is what usually makes you big. I kind of agree remember Enrique Iglesias only become big after he made Hero and Rihanna after Unfaithful. So Transition contains quite a few ballads namely I choose You. Actually that is a bit of an exaggeration the earlier self-titled album also contained a few ballads like two of his most popular Valentine and I.R.I.N.A. For those of you who know who Cristiano Ronaldo is, I am sure most of you do, this track is about Irina Shayk his girlfriend, however of course before Cristiano had met her. It is about when he first met her and he was so infatuated with her that he wrote a song about her.
Instead of looking at every track on Transition I will just focus on my favourite tracks and why I love them. The album kicks it off with Never Gonna Break Up. I think this track was mainly created to show off his vocals. People often respect his creative skills at creating music, but criticise his voice saying he should stick to being a producer. Here he shows he can sing, and that he can sing to a recording artist standard. OK he can't sing like Usher or Mary J Blige, but he displays his vocals hear reaching higher pitched vocals for the vocals. The album is about he wants to find the ideal girl, one that looks good with no makeup and that he will never break up with her. It has a very funky beat and a solid beat. It is one of the stronger tracks on the album.
Something That I like is the next track on the album and he rarely features artists on his album but Pusha T does a rap here which complements well. This is more of a club anthem and about where you find those girls that you like but you can't just put your finger on what you like about them. I am not the biggest fan of Pusha T and to be fair I haven't heard much of his stuff but his flow suits the track perfectly. That's what is good when Ryan Leslie features artists, he doesn't feature them for the sake of it, but only if they add something to the track.
Next up is one of my favourite tracks on the album Zodiac, and similar to Never Gonna Break Up he shows of here with his higher notes. This is definitely a more intimate track but not a ballad, talking about how he can get close to a girl and of course if there Zodiac signs are compatible. This is the first track on the album where he shows he can rap as well as sing and he shows his flow towards the end of the track.
Now for arguably my favourite track even more so than Zodiac, called Is IT Real Love. This has the most funkiest beat and an awesome guitar backing. I heard another version of this Ryan Leslie did on YouTube with his Adidas partnership and I highly recommend checking this out. The drums here are awesome and it is a track about waiting on a girl to find him and hoping it is real love because it could be hypnotising.
Possibly the best beat on the album is You're Not My Girl and a lot more of a club track and more upbeat than previous tracks on the album. Ryan Leslie really turns up here. This is an old school 90's beat and Ryan Leslie definitely modernises it. The hook is awesome and it is a track about how he is clearly still with this girl, but she isn't his girl. Not that I agree with the material at hand and someone shouldn't be friends that sleep together, but I guess each to their own. It does make a great track.
Guardian Angel is a very heartfelt track and one of the ballads in the album. It is about how he has found a girl and wants to protect her and is so glad to be with her. A little soppy but the hook is very catchy, it isn't one of my favourite tracks of the album but it deserves its place there. The next ballad is I Choose You. The problem for ballads is you need a very strong voice and Ryan Leslie can get away with normal tracks due to his beat, but this ballad doesn't quite hit the spot as he is relying just upon his voice. Others may love the track but for me it is one of the weaker joints here but a good track nonetheless.
The final track I enjoyed in this album was Rescue You. This is just a chill out track. It is the best way to describe it. A soothing beat and lyrics that complement it perfectly, the track is just about going with your instincts and sometimes what seems right isn't quite so and with time everything will be fine.
Overall this is a solid album from Ryan Leslie. A few years ago I may have given it five stars, but after having heard his latest album Les Is More which is definitely five stars, I have to compare Transition again it so will put it at four stars. On the whole there are a lot of great tracks and I really can't get enough of the Harvard grad. Three years till his latest album was far too long to wait and I hope as scheduled he releases his next album in 2013.
Summary: A solid album from Ryan Leslie