Earlier this week, a judge ordered Ryan Leslie to pay $1 million to a German man for recovering his stolen laptop, based on a reward offer Leslie made in 2010.
During a performance, Leslie addressed the issue in an attempt to clear the air, and his name.
“As you may or may not know, in 2010, someone stole all my music from me,” said Leslie during the performance. “…Initially, I put out an award of twenty thousand dollars backpack back. And when it never returned, I upped the reward to a million dollars because that music was absolutely everything to me. It was everything. It was my life.”
Ryan Leslie gave an account of the events that transpired after. “Eventually, somebody did return that backpack to me. And when I looked in the hard drive to access everything that I had lost, the music just wasn’t there. The hard drive wouldn’t mount. I couldn’t access anything. A year later, the same gentleman [who returned my backpack] – I don’t know if it was because he misunderstood what the million dollars was for – he filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York City, demanding that I pay a million dollars for the music I never got back.”
Leslie then addressed an article in the New York Post that referred to him as, among other things, a “Rap weasel.” “And yesterday, the reason I’m on the front page and everybody thinks I was just a cheapskate or something like that, a jury of my peers, eight people, they looked me in my face and said I had to pay this man one million dollars for music I never got back.”
“And so I got up today…and I looked at the headline, and it said ‘Rap weasel.’ So listen, man. Music always comes from a place of inspiration, and I gotta tell y’all, man – never have I been more inspired than when I lost everything [to then] create the most incredible album I could possibly make. And for the last two years, I invested every single penny, every dollar I had, to make the most incredible, artistic offering I possibly could.”
Finally, Leslie said he was not rescinding his offer. “And despite what the jury said, that million-dollar offer is still out there for anyone who can return all my compositions to me.”
After discussing the matter, Leslie took the issue of New York Post out in front of the cheering crowd and burned it. Watch the performance and speech below: