Underrated is a fairly overused term. It's like love or patriotism, really. At any given time in our inception the word is used and bandied about with such a cavalier attitude. As always with my writing I offer examples.
In the throes of passion (or maybe in the mutual convenience of a one night stand) the word love is tossed around either on the cusp of climax or as an incentive to get there.
Since 9/11 people have often passed patriotism and love of country as that more insidious aspect of the American culture, i.e. racism and/or intolerance. I could say I'm a patriot until I'm blue in the face but unless it's legitimate it cheapens the sentiment.
The same goes for love.
And the same goes for being underrated.
I can say with no preample that Ryan Leslie falls squarely in the category of underrated. Truth be told he should be the poster child. The man is a musician, singer, producer, and dabbles in rapping. The latter is most evident in his latest effort Les Is More.
Les Is More hits all the right notes from start to finish. The album, heavily if not completely produced by Leslie, is his dabbling in rapping. I say dabbling simply because I don't want to openly say that he excels here, unalike other R & B artists who feel they can cross the divided and vice versa.
Leslie starts out the album with "Glory". The drums here are thunderous and every other aspect is crisp to the point of perfection. Here Leslie basically says the exact same thing I first alluded to in this article-the nature of his underrated status. He makes some glaring points, one being that he deserves more recognition for his music than he actually gets. I am fully inclined to agree.
I listened on, stopping on the fourth track. It became a personal favorite of mine.
"5 Minute Freshen Up" is a track that is basically a track that not so subtly tells the male population to step up their game up if they aren't 'fresh enough'. The track is full of punchlines that I would say are more clever than rappers tend to be this day and age. It's also refreshing to hear a track so laden down with profanity that you cannot wholly appreciate the song.
Directly after this song I come to "Dress To Undress You". It's a cool song, rather sexy truth be told. The lyrics here are clever and smoothly delivered. One of my favorite lines has to be this one:
She's so original/No father to her style/I'ma put in the work/And be the father to her smile
As a poet and a writer I was utterly impressed with his eloquence. Being honest, I doubt I could have come up with something that witty.
I'm going to stop the review here simply because I want you whet your appetite. I don't want to give away too much genius.
Ryan Leslie gives an amazing gift to our ears here. Despite the fact he may not be the most popular in mainstream circles his music never suffers. This in and of itself speaks to the title of his album. Given less acclaim and less recognition, Ryan Leslie gives us more than we could have expected.
Give him a listen. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine