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Today’s growing trend is performing in front of a live band but it’s not everyday you see a rapper play live piano on stage. Ryan Leslie proves all is possible. Alongside his 3 piece band (drummer, bassist, guitarist) R. Les handled the keys as he electifried a sold out crowd at the Gramercy Theater in Manhattan. This concert kicked off his 2012 tour, which has four shows in the U.S. and includes over a dozen in Germany.

The show proved the all around talent that Leslie has as a artist, musician, and performer. Once solely an R&B artist, he now switches his focus to rap on his new album called Les Is More, due out October 22. He still keeps R&B in the mix on the album, especially on many of the melodies for example, “Dress To Undress You,” which shows the balance he has as a Rap and R&B artist. His switch to Rap seem well received by the crowd and Leslie seems to be quite comfortable. “My dream is to one day sell out Madison Sqaure Garden”. This will be the artists third album and first as an independent artist, which he says allows him to be “more expressive”. The range and flow of his new album will certainly meet expectations of his current fans along with drawing in new fans.

Leslie gets the crowd going when he breaks out and plays his mini synthsizer keyboard during the song “Breathe” which features Mr. Hudson on the chorus. A nice upbeat rap song with a nice guitar intro/outro. Displaying his versatility on the rap song “Swiss Francs” also featured on Les Is More. Playing the grand piano while rapping at the same damn time, what rapper can do that!

Overall the concert and album shows passion and the commitment Ryan Leslie has for his music and live performance.

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-Vinny Gangemi