12 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“I wanted to make an album for a while, I just didn’t have the time or resources,” Brooklyn artist Anthony Ramos tells Apple Music. Ramos broke ground in 2015 playing John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the Broadway sensation Hamilton. Since that time, he’s maintained a stacked itinerary acting in Spike Lee’s 2017 television reprise of his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It and taking up the role of Lady Gaga’s best friend in the 2018 film A Star Is Born. On the opening night of Hamilton, producer Will Wells approached Ramos with the idea of recording his first album. “All the pieces of the puzzle were coming together,” he says. A year later, Ramos has rolled out his debut The Good & the Bad, a sonically cohesive autobiography detailing the ups and downs of Ramos’ journey toward success that combines jazz, R&B, and pop. In this track-by-track guide, Ramos dives into each of the candid stories on The Good & the Bad.

Dear Diary
“The song is about a guy who needed to leave home to figure out who he wanted to be in life, but then he realizes that he never had to leave home to do that. It’s a love letter to home—home being a place that will always be there and how grateful I am for that, but I have to go.”

Auntie’s Basement
“This was a real story. There was this industry party that was supposed to be the biggest party in Hollywood, and I was flattered that I was invited, but I didn’t feel like going. My agent calls me and tells me that people are ‘selling their babies’ to go to this party and that it’s going to be the ‘best party of my life,’ so I put on my suit and pulled up. In the beginning of ‘Auntie’s Basement’ you can hear me pull up in a car and I’m like, ‘Man, this s**t is crazy,’ ’cause that’s what goes through my head when I go to these things—there’s flashing cameras, people in all types of wild outfits, s**t that you’d never wear in everyday life. You walk up to the press line and you see the photographers looking at each other questioning, ‘Do I know him? Should I know him?’—it’s a vulnerable position to be in. That’s where the lyrics come in. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time, it just wasn’t the best party of my life, and there’s nothing like partying in a place that’s most familiar to you with the people you love.”

One More Hour
“Have you ever had a night with someone that you didn’t want to end? That song was about the first night that my fiancée and I kissed. We’d hang out at this bar, and one night it was so late and she lived really far. I didn’t want to overstep, so I told her that she could sleep over on my bed and I’ll sleep on the futon in my living room. She slept over and we hung out the next day watching movies on my old-ass Mac computer for the whole day.”

Isabella
“I bought tickets for [his fiancée] Jasmine and I to go to Puerto Rico and she told me to hold up because she’s got work, so I asked her, ‘Please…cancel work.’ She did and we went, and it was an awesome trip. ‘Isabella’ is about that. Sometimes you’ve just got to get away. The rapping on the song was my sense of urgency. It’s like, ‘How can we wrap this up? How do I get her out on this trip?’ and then I thought, ‘All right, let’s rap.’”

Mind Over Matter
“A lot of people have one-night stands and are not in long-term relationships. I thought, ‘Where the f**k is the song for people who’ve been in long-term relationships?’ We don’t celebrate that kind of love enough. I decided that I wanted to write a song that did. It’s a celebration of long-lasting love that I don’t think gets enough love in music.”

Relationship
“Have you ever been in a situation where you’re talking on the phone with someone every day, hanging out all the time, going on dates, and then one person gets bold and pops the question: ‘Are we a thing?’ and the other person says that they’re not ready. This song is a situation of ‘No, I can’t do this, but could you still be my plus-one? Can we talk every night? Can you stay over, but without making this exclusive?”

Little Lies
“This song is about the little lies that we tell each other to either protect someone else from getting hurt or protect ourselves from having to deal with something.”

Woman
“Women have this kind of love that I don’t think men can ever touch. It’s like a supernatural love. I think about all the people who love me unconditionally and it’s just women, women, women. At the end of the song I speak in Spanish because I don’t have any words left. All I can say is ‘sorry,’ but I can’t even say it in English. It’s an apology saying that ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t love you the way you loved me.’ With a woman’s love, it’s so powerful. I wanted to write a song about that because I’ve been inspired by so many women in my life.”

Figure It Out
“I wanted to write a song that would give people courage to open up. I feel like a lot of folks don’t have enough courage to talk about loneliness or embrace it—especially men. It feels like we’re weak if we express that, or if we open up about us feeling down or depressed. I wanted the sound to be very simple and as stripped down as possible, to not only focus on the words, but to embody that feeling we experience when we’re by ourselves.”

Either Way
“I’m grateful for friends that have pulled me out of dark places. In the song there’s a guy that’s experiencing loneliness in his life and he’s in a place that’s unfamiliar to him, and it feels like he’s in a black hole. This song’s perspective is him explaining why he doesn’t want to go out into the world.”

The Good & the Bad
“Sometimes you’ve just got to hang on. I wanted this song to be a reflection of my journey.”

Come Back Home
“My mom said when I was six years old I would sit by the window and say that I didn’t want to be here anymore. So she’d ask, ‘Where do you want to be?’ and I didn’t know, but what I was trying to say was that I know there’s more to life—places to see, people to meet, experiences to be had—but I felt like I was trapped in a box. I had to leave just to see how good I have it.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

“I wanted to make an album for a while, I just didn’t have the time or resources,” Brooklyn artist Anthony Ramos tells Apple Music. Ramos broke ground in 2015 playing John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the Broadway sensation Hamilton. Since that time, he’s maintained a stacked itinerary acting in Spike Lee’s 2017 television reprise of his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It and taking up the role of Lady Gaga’s best friend in the 2018 film A Star Is Born. On the opening night of Hamilton, producer Will Wells approached Ramos with the idea of recording his first album. “All the pieces of the puzzle were coming together,” he says. A year later, Ramos has rolled out his debut The Good & the Bad, a sonically cohesive autobiography detailing the ups and downs of Ramos’ journey toward success that combines jazz, R&B, and pop. In this track-by-track guide, Ramos dives into each of the candid stories on The Good & the Bad.

Dear Diary
“The song is about a guy who needed to leave home to figure out who he wanted to be in life, but then he realizes that he never had to leave home to do that. It’s a love letter to home—home being a place that will always be there and how grateful I am for that, but I have to go.”

Auntie’s Basement
“This was a real story. There was this industry party that was supposed to be the biggest party in Hollywood, and I was flattered that I was invited, but I didn’t feel like going. My agent calls me and tells me that people are ‘selling their babies’ to go to this party and that it’s going to be the ‘best party of my life,’ so I put on my suit and pulled up. In the beginning of ‘Auntie’s Basement’ you can hear me pull up in a car and I’m like, ‘Man, this s**t is crazy,’ ’cause that’s what goes through my head when I go to these things—there’s flashing cameras, people in all types of wild outfits, s**t that you’d never wear in everyday life. You walk up to the press line and you see the photographers looking at each other questioning, ‘Do I know him? Should I know him?’—it’s a vulnerable position to be in. That’s where the lyrics come in. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time, it just wasn’t the best party of my life, and there’s nothing like partying in a place that’s most familiar to you with the people you love.”

One More Hour
“Have you ever had a night with someone that you didn’t want to end? That song was about the first night that my fiancée and I kissed. We’d hang out at this bar, and one night it was so late and she lived really far. I didn’t want to overstep, so I told her that she could sleep over on my bed and I’ll sleep on the futon in my living room. She slept over and we hung out the next day watching movies on my old-ass Mac computer for the whole day.”

Isabella
“I bought tickets for [his fiancée] Jasmine and I to go to Puerto Rico and she told me to hold up because she’s got work, so I asked her, ‘Please…cancel work.’ She did and we went, and it was an awesome trip. ‘Isabella’ is about that. Sometimes you’ve just got to get away. The rapping on the song was my sense of urgency. It’s like, ‘How can we wrap this up? How do I get her out on this trip?’ and then I thought, ‘All right, let’s rap.’”

Mind Over Matter
“A lot of people have one-night stands and are not in long-term relationships. I thought, ‘Where the f**k is the song for people who’ve been in long-term relationships?’ We don’t celebrate that kind of love enough. I decided that I wanted to write a song that did. It’s a celebration of long-lasting love that I don’t think gets enough love in music.”

Relationship
“Have you ever been in a situation where you’re talking on the phone with someone every day, hanging out all the time, going on dates, and then one person gets bold and pops the question: ‘Are we a thing?’ and the other person says that they’re not ready. This song is a situation of ‘No, I can’t do this, but could you still be my plus-one? Can we talk every night? Can you stay over, but without making this exclusive?”

Little Lies
“This song is about the little lies that we tell each other to either protect someone else from getting hurt or protect ourselves from having to deal with something.”

Woman
“Women have this kind of love that I don’t think men can ever touch. It’s like a supernatural love. I think about all the people who love me unconditionally and it’s just women, women, women. At the end of the song I speak in Spanish because I don’t have any words left. All I can say is ‘sorry,’ but I can’t even say it in English. It’s an apology saying that ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t love you the way you loved me.’ With a woman’s love, it’s so powerful. I wanted to write a song about that because I’ve been inspired by so many women in my life.”

Figure It Out
“I wanted to write a song that would give people courage to open up. I feel like a lot of folks don’t have enough courage to talk about loneliness or embrace it—especially men. It feels like we’re weak if we express that, or if we open up about us feeling down or depressed. I wanted the sound to be very simple and as stripped down as possible, to not only focus on the words, but to embody that feeling we experience when we’re by ourselves.”

Either Way
“I’m grateful for friends that have pulled me out of dark places. In the song there’s a guy that’s experiencing loneliness in his life and he’s in a place that’s unfamiliar to him, and it feels like he’s in a black hole. This song’s perspective is him explaining why he doesn’t want to go out into the world.”

The Good & the Bad
“Sometimes you’ve just got to hang on. I wanted this song to be a reflection of my journey.”

Come Back Home
“My mom said when I was six years old I would sit by the window and say that I didn’t want to be here anymore. So she’d ask, ‘Where do you want to be?’ and I didn’t know, but what I was trying to say was that I know there’s more to life—places to see, people to meet, experiences to be had—but I felt like I was trapped in a box. I had to leave just to see how good I have it.”

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