Social Encore: Leslie lays it down at Aloha Tower
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I remember the first time I heard a Ryan Leslie song, back in 2008 at a San Francisco nightclub. I eventually wanted to learn more about him after I heard a mix by New York based DJ Elofader and my ears fell in love even more.
The icing to the cake was when we were on the same flight to New York; he was in first class while I was in the back. I made small talk with him at the baggage claim area and ever since then I’ve been that much more of a faithful fan.
A handful of people braved the rain and humidity at the Ryan Leslie on Saturday, June 22, at Aloha Tower Marketplace. Since the concert had a late start, Leslie didn’t take the stage until 1 a.m. By this time, many were restless and a little soaked.
As soon as he got on the mic wearing simple jeans and a T-shirt, however, the crowd smiled when he shouted out, “Aloha!” He shared the Hawaiian vocabulary he learned, and the crowd cheered as he shared the story of his airport arrival done Hawaiian-style.
“As soon as I came off the plane, they said that it was tradition here in Hawaii that you get lei’d. … That’s how you guys do it here in Hawaii, huh,” Leslie said jokingly.
Leslie has been praised in the media for his music style. From producing and arranging his own music to capturing the essence of his creativity progress through his YouTube channel, he is a visionary in his industry and that truly transcended in his performance. Moving from one keyboard to another while singing, directing his band, rapping and even laying out a set on the drums, Leslie truly is a multi-talented artist that is underrated.
Since this was Leslie’s first Hawaii show, he wanted to capture the Aloha spirit and decided to shoot a video while he performed the song “History”.
“Life is really what you make it. It’s whatever you write in your own history book. So whatever story you write. Make sure it’s good,” said Leslie, summarizing the song’s message.
One of the concert’s promoters, NoWayOut Entertainment’s Tony Ortiola, decided to take Leslie’s advice and introduced a new life chapter in front of the enthusiastic audience. He went down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Joy Ponce, on cener stage. What complemented the proposal was the song that followed — Leslie performed one of his hits, “Diamond Girl”.
Leslie took song requests on stage and performed songs like “Professional,” but I wish that did one of my favorites, “How It Was Suppose To Be”. Although he raps in some of his songs, I think his singing is a lot more appealing. When you hear his voice, you can tell that it is full of sincerity, and most of all, soul.
His concert certainly was one of the best concerts that I have seen this summer. Leslie’s ability to captivate through beats and lyrics of everyday struggles is what makes him enticing and relatable. He said he left Universal Records so that he can create a career driven by his love of his fans and his love of creating music.
You can tell it was probably the best decision that he has made as an artist and entrepreneur. While many singers in his genre are singing about making money and drinking/staying out late at the clubs, he sings about telling a woman that she is his “diamond girl, the reason he quit the game” for and that dreams are possible if you work hard for them.
The sad thing about the Leslie concert was the turnout. If you were to compare Leslie’s most recent concert numbers from this year, there were hundreds of people lining up to see him perform. At Aloha Tower, only a few dozen attended. Some were also disappointed at the amount of people who showed up, suggesting that Electronic Daisy Carnival may have been a contributing factor. Some commented on social networking sites that they wanted to see him perform, but found out too late.
Nonetheless, he did an incredible job. He involved the women of the crowd to sing the harmonic lines of “Addiction”. Leslie was impressed at how well the women sang that night; everyone was in tune and were having a good time participating. He put one finger in the air, following with a shaka to end his show with gratitudes of appreciation. He played old and new songs that left the audience wanting more and was called back for a hana hou performance.
For the people who did not attend, they will be able to see a video on his YouTube channel soon.
Here is a video of Tony Ortiola’s proposal to his girlfriend:
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.