Jadakiss’ response to Ryan Leslie’s educational background just might be all of us right now.

During a live taping of “Earn Your Leisure” during this year’s SXSW conference in Austin, TX, the legendary rapper expressed his amazement after discovering that the renowned producer attended Harvard at the age of 15.

Young Prodigy

“I got in when I was 14 and was a freshman at 15,” Leslie explained of his college career at the Ivy League institution.

Jadakiss was blown away by the news.


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“Holy sh-t,” said The LOX member. “I knew it… I knew he was a real genius. That’s crazy.”

According to TheCrimson.com, Leslie graduated from Harvard in 1998 with a degree in government and a concentration in political science and macroeconomics.

His Harvard Career

He traded in his high school experience and went straight into college, a decision that he told the outlet he does not regret one bit.

“The only point of reference I have to compare my experience to anyone else’s experience is what I see on television, and I’m told that what I see on television is pretty far removed from reality, so I don’t really have a frame of reference for what I missed,” he said at the time when asked if he felt as though he missed out on his high school years.

Furthermore, he explained that during undergrad, he was placed on academic probation three times. However, it wasn’t because he was uninterested in his classes, but because he was more focused on launching a music career.

“I believe that stemmed from the fact that I was prioritizing the pursuit of music,” said Leslie. “Fortunately for me, I had a mentor who went to bat for me each time and was my advocate to the Ad Board. He was a Ph.D. candidate at the business school and ensured that I graduated on time.”

The Power of Mentorship

As previously reported by AfroTech, Leslie has always been vocal about the power that mentors have had over his life.

He shared that advice from a mentor led him to turn an initial $100,000 into $16,000,000.

“I remember a conversation I had with my mentor. I said, ‘Hey look, man. I took your advice and man, $100,000 to $350,000. I’mma cash out and get something nice for my mom.’ And he gave me the ultimatum at that time – he said, ‘Ryan, listen. You can go ahead and cash out, give something nice to your mom. We’ll shake hands and I’ll never teach you anything again. Or, you figure out a different way to give something nice to your mom and hold onto that investment, and we’ll check in every single year around tax time and we’ll see what it grow[s] to.’ And when we checked in this year, that $100,000…was just under $16 million.”

Clearly, Ryan Leslie has been using his wits since his early years to build the successful career that he has today.