Leon Thomas, a Driving Force in R&B

Our 31st cover star, the illustrious Leon Thomas, drops his third studio single, “Breaking Point,” in collaboration with EZMNY Records/Motown Records.

The track was co-produced by the renowned Don Mills and Coleman, and serves as yet another testament to Thomas’s formidable abilities as a singer, songwriter, and producer.

As one of the most highly-regarded and sought-after multi-hyphenate talents in the entertainment industry today, Thomas continues to captivate audiences with his exceptional artistry.

Leon Thomas, a Driving Force in R&B
Courtesy of Motown Records

After a four-year hiatus devoted to honing his skills in songwriting, producing, and acting, the multi-talented Leon Thomas has returned to the musical spotlight with a new single, “Breaking Point,” that is certain to cement his status as one of the premier R&B singers of our time. This highly-anticipated release is particularly meaningful to Thomas, as it reflects his own personal experiences of a relationship that had reached its breaking point.

As he explains, “This single is a ripped page out of my journal that shows the world exactly what I was living through at that moment. I think everybody has a moment in a relationship with a lost love where they felt like me.” He goes on to describe the track as “healing music,” as it reflects the bittersweet emotions associated with the realization that a relationship may not be the best for you in the long run. With its powerful blend of introspection and musical virtuosity, “Breaking Point” is a must-listen for fans of R&B and anyone seeking to connect with the human experience.

Photo credits: Dominic Dominguez

As the popularity of this R&B track continues to grow, it has recently been given a coveted spotlight by Beats By Dre, featuring none other than basketball superstar LeBron James and his son Bronny.

This is an incredible honor for Leon, who had the privilege of meeting James through a program initiated by Michelle Obama and Nickelodeon. Describing James as “the nicest guy ever and the perfect fit,” Leon expresses his admiration for the basketball star’s ability to maintain his genuine and humble nature despite his immense success. He expresses his gratitude for the opportunity, remarking “I feel like he’s one of those actual true human beings who hasn’t let success affect them in a toxic way. Every time I see him, he is always the same genuine person. So, I’m just really blessed to have this opportunity.”

Despite his current status as a GRAMMY® Award-winning artist, Leon Thomas has humble origins, hailing from the borough of Brooklyn, New York.

His journey in the entertainment industry began at a young age, taking the stage on Broadway as Young Simba in the critically acclaimed production of “The Lion King” at the tender age of 10. This experience sparked a passion for singing in Leon, leading him to work on three Broadway plays, performing eight shows a week. However, it was his role in the film “August Rush” alongside the late Robin Williams that marked a turning point in his career, propelling him to greater heights. He subsequently secured a record deal with Columbia Records at the age of 13, lent his voice to the beloved character Tyrone on “The Backyardigans,” starred in four seasons of Nickelodeon’s hit show “Victorious,” and made an appearance on HBO’s “Insecure.”

This early success in the industry provided Leon with the opportunity to establish himself and his family in the city of Los Angeles. Reflecting on this, Leon states, “I never really ended up leaving. I feel like when you finish your high school years in a city, it genuinely becomes home.” He attributes much of this to the support of his parents, who have their own connections to the entertainment industry. “My parents ran a club in the early 2000s, doing weddings and opening up for big artists like Chaka Khan. So, I was able to be backstage and witness their love of music and live vicariously through that. I really don’t know a world without music. It’s in my blood.” This familial influence and exposure to the industry from a young age have undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping Leon’s own career and passion for music.

Continuing his upward trajectory, Leon made a substantial connection in the music industry with Ty Dolla $ign. He spoke about meeting him 4 years ago while Ty had been working on his album, Featuring Ty Dolla $ign.

Visuals co-directed by Cameron Dean and Leon Thomas

Ty Dolla $ign afforded Leon a unique opportunity to gain insight into the inner workings of the music industry through their association, resulting in the development of a close friendship between the two. As a “fly on the wall,” Leon was able to assist occasionally and observe Ty’s creative process. This fortuitous connection ultimately led him to sign with Motown Records, and become the inaugural artist under Ty Dolla $ign’s new label, EZMNY Records.

Leon reflects on this serendipitous turn of events, saying “It’s funny, I was riding in my car in LA, and I stopped at a stoplight right next to a prominent A&R by the name of Shawn Barron. He had recently started working at Motown and told me Ty was in the midst of an imprint with Motown. They had been talking about making me their flagship artist. I wasn’t sure if I could move to a major label. However, we had a solid relationship between the friendship I had with Ty Dolla $ign and a previous relationship with Motown. So in that sense, it seemed like a very comfortable fit. He’s been a really helpful mentor and friend.”

Their collaboration was evident in the release of the R&B track, “Love Jones,” earlier this year. The single was co-written by Leon and co-produced with Axl Folie (Drake, Kendrick Lamar) and Ali Prawl (Mary J. Blige, Cordae). The lyrics and harmony of the track illustrate the strong connection between Leon and Ty Dolla $ign and pay homage to a classic California love story. Leon said “The “Love Jones” music video is a collection of all the things I love about living in California. Having an LA legend like Ty Dolla $ign made the entire concept much more authentic and real.”

Leon, a multi-faceted artist renowned for his talents as a vocalist, songsmith and producer, has had the privilege of working alongside a plethora of musical luminaries, including Drake, Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Chris Brown, Kehlani, Giveon, J. Cole and Rick Ross.

In the most recent chapter of his illustrious career, Leon has received two GRAMMY® nominations for his contributions as a co-producer on Jack Harlow’s hip-hop/rap album, Come Home The Kids Miss You and Snoh Aalegra’s R&B track, “Do 4 Love.” He attributes much of his success as a producer to the guidance and mentorship of legendary artist and producer, Babyface, who introduced him to numerous musical icons and enabled him to foster positive relationships with other artists early on in his journey.

One of the most notable moments in Leon’s career as a producer was his association with OVO’s Boi1da. “He kind of took me under his wing and showed me around the world of high-level production. Since working with him, I’ve been able to make some strides that have honestly taken me to the stars and back. I’m super blessed to call him a friend and mentor on the production and songwriting front, while having somebody like Todd Allison on the artist front. This gives me so much clarity on how to grow and evolve in this industry without being an asshole.”

Photo credits: Dominic Dominguez

He articulated that his association with Boi1da served as the catalyst for his introduction to the musical virtuoso, Drake, as well as the celebrated business magnate, Simon G. of Isla Management.

“I hold great respect for his ability to show generosity and support, as it is not a given in this industry. The connection I have with him has been incredibly valuable, and has allowed me to gain a new perspective and elevated my production skills to new heights. I am deeply grateful for the connections I have made through him, Drake, Simon, and every connection I’ve gotten through them.”

Last year, Leon had the privilege of contributing his writing and production talents to Drake’s critically acclaimed, globally chart-topping album, Certified Lover Boy, on tracks such as “Pipe Down,” “Love All” [feat. JAY-Z], and “In the Bible” [feat. Lil Durk and Giveon], with “Pipe Down” being a personal favorite. He elaborates on the experience, saying “It was an extraordinary experience to witness the coming together of that record, a truly beautiful moment.”

“Working with Drake, who is a legend in the industry, was an incredible honor. I have been a fan of his music since I was young and being in his presence during the creation of “Certified Lover Boy” was a truly special and unique moment for me. He has seamlessly transitioned from a career in television to music, a feat that is not easily accomplished, so I truly admire him for that. I look forward to emulating his level of success in the future.”

As he continues to advance in his professional pursuits, Leon eagerly anticipates the release of his highly-anticipated R&B album, Electric Dusk, in the coming year. He cites his passion for film as a major source of inspiration in the creation of the album.

“The musical landscape of this album is deeply evocative and cinematic, lending itself perfectly to visual mediums such as film and television. This is an aspect that I intend to explore in the future.” Leon delved further into the intricacies of the album’s sound, describing it as not only cinematic, but also possessing a psychedelic quality. He drew inspiration from music of the 1960s and 1990s, incorporating elements from artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Prince, and experimenting with a higher pitch in his vocal delivery. “I feel that the realm of alternative R&B has undergone significant transformations in recent years, with the emergence of artists such as Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy. To be a part of this evolution in a genre that I hold dear to my heart holds a great deal of significance to me.”

As he releases this album and continues to progress in his career, Leon aspires to be a driving force within the R&B genre. “I believe that by releasing songs such as “Breaking Point,” which are candid and vulnerable, I am not only expressing myself, but also setting an example. By striving to tell our stories in a way that does not demean women, particularly as a black creative. I firmly believe that setting an example through one’s own actions is a far more powerful and effective method than simply talking about it.”

Leon Thomas Force R&B
Photo credits: Dominic Dominguez

“Breaking Point” Stream Link

Beats by Dre Spotlight

“Love Jones” feat. Ty Dolla $ign Official Music Video

“X-Rated” feat. Benny The Butcher Official Music Video

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