In 1993, he applied to four University of California campuses as well as Stanford, Yale and Harvard.
Most of us were pretty realistic — we're Harvard students; this music stuff is fun, but this isn't the future. During his freshman year at Harvard, Leslie devoted many hours per week to creating and developing music in a studio basement on campus.
But Ryan always had a ten-year plan about how he was going to take over the music industry.” While still a college student, Leslie began producing tracks for local Boston artists, and molding his image, which Matthew found unconvincing: “He had this pseudo-sexual, thugged-out Lothario thing. He taught himself basic production skills and also developed a musical style of his own.
They told him that he could have a better future considering he graduated from college at the age of 19.
Leslie insisted that he was going to pursue his musical interests for two years and if he didn't like it he would stop.
Leslie suddenly saw a new future for himself when a friend played him a Stevie Wonder CD freshman year. “I wanted to chase that man's career.” Leslie became a constant presence at the on-campus recording studio.
Fellow student Chiqui Matthew, now working for Goldman Sachs, remembered Leslie making beats at every free moment: “He was on a different level of intensity.
The video for "Diamond Girl" was premiered on BET's 106 & Park, and released on Leslie's You Tube channel with a special behind-the-scenes clip.
In November 2007, he released a video for a song named "I-R-I-N-A" that was produced in-house and released through his You Tube channel as well.
Mottola soon became a mentor of Leslie's and offered him a publishing deal with Aspen Songs and a recording contract with Casablanca, Mottola's imprint distributed by Universal Music Group.
Under the mentorship of Mottola and Combs, Leslie signed then-aspiring model Cassie Ventura to his imprint, Next Selection in 2005.
In late 2003, Leslie began recording his debut album, entitled Just Right, and released two singles: "The Way That U Move Girl" and "Used 2 Be" (with Fabolous).