For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Slow Jam Saturday : Ryan Leslie, Valentine
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.
“Valentine” is a love song written and produced by Ryan Leslie. The song explores his intense emotions and unwavering commitment to a woman not officially his girlfriend. Leslie uses his songwriting talents to emphasize his genuine and sincere feelings for her even though they are not in a romantic relationship. The song delves into the concept of unrequited love and highlights the love jones that he has for this woman. The first verse’s lyrics suggest that the person being sung about is highly desired and receives compliments from many other suitors. However, Leslie wants to express his feelings and reassure the person that he sees their true beauty beyond what others may say. The lyrics state, “I don’t have to say you’re beautiful / You’ve got plenty of other guys to say those words for you.”
The song’s chorus conveys the central sentiment of the song. In the second verse, the lyrics express the narrator’s willingness to give everything they have to the person they love.
The song’s bridge emphasizes the long-lasting nature of the couple’s love, highlighting the challenges they’ve faced together. The lyrics “Even through all the ups and downs, you can’t stop the way I feel now” demonstrate their unbreakable commitment, reaffirming that their love remains constant despite any obstacles they encounter. The recurring line, “I know you’re not my girlfriend, but I swear that I love you. Baby, I do,” reminds the song’s central message and the singer’s dedication to his feelings. The word “Valentine” used in the bridge symbolizes Leslie’s desire to formalize their relationship and become a genuine romantic couple.
Ryan Leslie released four more albums before taking a break from music. However, “Valentine” remains one of my favorite ballads in Leslie’s catalog and stays in rotation throughout the year.
Final Grade: B+
“Valentine” from Ryan Leslie is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
Music fans were delighted last week when music superstar Justin Timberlake released a new single supporting his upcoming sixth album. JT will follow the single release with an appearance on Saturday Night Live. For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I revisited Timberlake’s 2017 collaboration soundtrack album with Mitchell Owens, The Book Of Love. As he would do a year later with the album Man of The Woods, Timberlake decided to venture away from the R&B influences, which were the dominant force of his previous releases, and go for a different sound.