Ryan Leslie Ryan Leslie

Ryan Leslie Ryan Leslie
After making a name for himself in the trenches crafting tunes for artists as diverse as Loon, Donell Jones, Cassie and Britney Spears, Harvard graduate and triple threat singer/songwriter/producer Ryan Leslie is finally stepping out of the shadows with an eponymous debut that, unfortunately, isn't quite as impressive as his resume. Perhaps hampered by a creative allegiance to a genre frustratingly insistent on imitating itself, Leslie brings little to the R&B table that you couldn't find just about anywhere else. While the singer impresses with a versatility that sees him dropping rhymes on "Diamond Girl" before switching to falsetto and toying with Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" on "Addiction," the pairing of meagre lyrical content with equally scant melodies during the album's slower, more romantic middle section leaves much to be desired. The over-tweaked vocoder effect of closer "Gibberish" shows Leslie doesn't take himself too seriously, but with cuts like "Quicksand" feeling like an old Neptunes outtake, it's hard to make a case for the man. (Universal Motown)