Leslie usually handles the bulk of the production himself, and when you’ve dropped beats for the likes of Game, Chris Brown, Fabolous and Ne-Yo, you get the right to place your skills on a pedestal. This time around however, the personnel list grew by a few.
Cardiak, who arrived on the scene in 2008, and has yet to slow down, played a major role on the album. The New Jersey producer has worked with Meek, Loso, Wale, Ross, Budden, Jeezy and 50, just off the top of my head. The man has a vision that can coincide with someone else’s artistic direction without overstepping boundaries. Clearly R. Les was feeling the vibe, Cardiak unleashed his surging power on four tracks. “Black Mozart” coming in at the two spot, sets the tone early for what doesn’t necessarily sound like a Ryan Leslie project. When I asked Ryan in an email about production and sound, he responded with “it is my most honest representation.”
You can usually expect a Leslie album to take on the ‘slow jam’ role with his relationship woes, and praising of the opposite sex. Black Mozart has a completely fresh feel to it. Those lady killer tracks still appear on the project, but the dominance has eased up. That being said, “Green” features both the flow and soulfulness Les has to offer, and of course Fabolous stopped by to lay down those undeniable silky bars for the ladies. The track was produced by none other then the flatline king Cardiak, just another trick from the old bag. Of course the album needs to conclude in quintessential Ryan Leslie fashion, with “Coke Cans;” a genuine ballad towards those broken-hearted females.
Now back to that new sound, the predominant aspect of Black Mozart is it’s vibrant energy level. Not to say the predecessors are boring by any means, but that brightness was disguised. The tempo spikes with a couple anthems designed for the clubs, “I Love It,” and “Higher.” The genius behind these two beats is Cadenza, a 23-year old from West London. I especially appreciate the addictive sample-hook he incorporated on “Higher,” the intrigue gets me every single time. Another contributor to the fresh wave of sounds is Brooklyn producer Illmind, who’s had quite the prolific career thus far. His unique offerings include the heavy “Carnival of Venice,” the breezy “Lay Down,” the emotional roller-coaster “Only The Lonely,” and the grungy “Bad Chicks.”
Halfway through the album, you reach this deep, sexy joint called “Full Moon,” produced by the up-and-coming WondaGurl. Like any great artist, Leslie doesn’t hesitate to get back to his roots by capping the song with a gorgeous piano ballad worthy of any great film score. Now back to WondaGurl for a moment, at just 16-years old, she not only dropped a second beat for this album, but happens to be on Jay Z’s MCHG (“Crown”). Her second spark comes in the form of “Evacuation,” which features a fitting line that speaks volumes, “get that hating energy out the room,” – this beat is indeed pure positive energy.
Despite the negativity Ryan Leslie has endured in the last little while, he’s come out on top with Black Mozart. He’s put all the bullshit behind him, brushed his shoulders off and created an energetic album. There’s the finer things, the captivating women, the crew, but more importantly, pure organic enjoyment. The record has this positive aura about it, making it an easy but engaging listening experience. One final shout out to Cardiak, because he also worked on “History,” which epitomizes the overall vibe of this album to perfection