Going into his latest album project, Bushwick’s own rising popstar Anthony Ramos asked himself some defining questions like “What do I want to say?” and “What am I feeling right now?”
Having earned his songwriting and performance chops on Broadway, double-cast in Hamilton beginning in 2015, and his debut solo album in 2019, Ramos was intentional about wielding his previous self-discovery to hone his soundscape as a breakthrough pop artist. To get there, he asked, “How do I elevate this music?”
The artist, who starred in this summer’s blockbuster adaptation of In The
Heights and HBO’s In Treatment proves to be a well-rounded force in the entertainment world with the release of his sophomore album, Love and Lies on June 25 via Republic Records.
The original plan was to release an album last fall, and he had a separate collection ready to go. After the pandemic swept, Ramos released one song, “Stop,” and waited until it felt like the right time to continue on.
“This time around, the album is about listening,” Ramos tells American Songwriter on release day. “I want to listen to the chords. I want to listen to what’s going on in the room before every session—the conversations we have before every session. I like to start every session just talking, chillin’, and vibin’ because that’s where inspiration comes from, it comes from life and music.”
Executive produced by his longtime friend Will Wells with collaborators, including songwriter Castle, producers Andres Torres and Mauricio Rengifo (Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Justin Bieber, Nicky Jam) and Jesse Shatkin [Rihanna, Sia], the 12-track project showcases every side of the dynamic and diverse multi-hyphenate, blending a mix of R&B and pop sensibilities with Ramos’ Puerto Rican roots.
His 2019 debut The Good & The Bad, he says, was “almost like therapy.” Green in the songwriting world, the first album involved what he calls “speed dating”—co-writing with as many collaborators as possible, shaping his soundscape into something versatile and unique.
“I don’t want to speed date anymore. You go in and try to connect with someone in 30 minutes, and then come up with a concept. I wanted to keep this one intimate, and I think it’s the best music I’ve ever written because of that,” Ramos says. “I learned so much from writing with other people, and all of those tools and prepared me for 2021. I trust myself now as a songwriter, and finally, let the music tell me where it wants to go.”
His second album is composed of music that he wants to listen to, all co-written by the artist and a small circle of close friends and collaborators who aligned with his vision.
The title track, “Love and Lies” was inspired by TKA’s “Louder Than Love.” Striking inspiration from “that vibe” he hasn’t heard since the success of the song in the ‘90s, Ramos says, “I want to follow a darker vibe here. On my first album, I just wanted to party. This album is about dancing more—grooving, moving. It’s important to me that this album was moving from top-to-bottom.”
“Masterpiece” is an example of the music moving through Ramos at its will. There is no beat on the track, just strings. “Jesse played us two beats for it, but it just wasn’t the vibe,” he says. “So he played a pack of just strings—which became the main string section—and I said ‘that’s the song.’ So we put 808s on it for drums, and just really allowed the music to guide me.”
“Say Less,” featured as a single, exhibits a sensuous R&B sound that is a dynamic addition to Ramos’ distinguished sound. Layered with provocative lyrics, the single lends itself well to the on-screen chemistry exhibited in the music video.
“Lose My Mind,” was one of two tracks he penned pre-pandemic. On album release day, Ramos unveiled the music video for the sultry meditation on the destructive nature of hedonism.
The video for “Lose My Mind,” directed by Blythe Thomas, is the product of a very specific, palpable vision Ramos had for the film. “I wanted to get dark with it, and sexy with it,” he says, deciding that he needed to be featured in the film as himself.
“This song is about turmoil within a single person. And I really wanted to make it a point to really accentuate the turmoil that this person has created inside of me because of that sexual connection we have,” says Ramos. “But at the same time, that that toxic relationship that we continue to have with each other simply because that sexual connection is so crazy. So I tried to embody this sort of like ravenous kind of animalistic vibe in the video.”
Watch the video for Lose My Mind below. Listen to Anthony Ramos’ new album Love and Lies, here.
Photo Credit: Republic Records