Album Review: Ryan Leslie - Transition

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 10:51 AM

Artist: Ryan Leslie
Album Title: Transition
Release date: 11.03.09

Ryan Leslie’s sophomore album is titled Transition, which indicates the artist’s ascension to a higher level of musical awareness and a broad shift in sonic strategy. But after a few listens to this album, listeners will quickly discover that Leslie did not deviate at all from the formula he used on his self-titled debut — catchy hooks, pounding drums, and thin lyricism. Then again, his first album was released in February. Only a fetus can “transition” in nine months.

Long before Leslie stepped in front of the mic, he made a significant mark on the boards, having crafted beats for Danity Kane, Beyonce, Britney Spears, and others. There is no denying Leslie’s intense work ethic, which partially explains the significant impact he’s made in such a short period of time. As usual with a Leslie project, the first thing to jump out is the production. The drums snap, the tones are well placed, and the final product creates an instant desire to groove. However, the lyrics are thin and the content is limited. Still, at least it sounds good.

Transition begins quickly with the upbeat, dance-heavy groove of “Never Gonna Break Up,” a song in which Leslie mentally and physically prepares for the right woman. “I just want a girl that still looks good with no makeup,” Leslie says on the song’s hook. “And when I find her, I promise I’m never gonna break up.” That song transitions into the midtempo “Something That I Like,” featuring emcee Pusha T from The Clipse. On this song, Leslie mainly repeats the song’s refrain and takes a back seat to Pusha T’s lyricism. “Zodiac” sounds like Prince circa 1985 where the guitar strings are plucked with fierce intensity and the percussion snaps distinctively.

Here’s where Transition stalls: “Is It Real Love” sounds like the continuation of the album’s opening track, as Leslie questions if his current love interest is the real thing. The next track, “Sunday Night,” details the next step in the relationship process. “I feel like you’re the real thing, and I feel like I could believe in everything you’re saying,” Leslie croons on the song. The relationship must’ve been a fling, because the very next cut, “You’re Not My Girl,” is about the secrecy of having a fling with another man’s woman. Songs like “Guardian Angel,” “All My Love,” and “I Choose You” are about embracing love and romance, but don’t offer anything deep to keep your fingers on the rewind button.

Please don’t get me wrong: I respect Ryan Leslie’s hustle and admire his work ethic. However, the title of Transition carries a heavy weight, which Leslie doesn’t quite push with this release. The quick release of his sophomore album will help sustain a mainstream buzz, but Leslie also runs the risk of burning out just as fast, especially if he doesn’t change his tune. Transition is good for now, but doesn’t have the staying power to be deemed classic.

Sound-Savvy rates Transition with 3 out of 5 platinum headphones

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