Hamilton Hookup: On opening night of the off-Broadway production of Hamilton in early 2015, music team member and producer Will Wells pulled aside Ramos, who was cast as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. Ramos recalls him saying: “Everyone on that stage is very talented, but you? You special.” Ramos had just started writing songs, and Wells suggested he consider releasing an album. They became co-writers, later forming their official partnership, Whole Team Winnin.
Spike's Signoff: Post-Hamilton, Ramos starred as Mars Blackmon in the Netflix adaptation of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and later played the best friend of Ally (Lady Gaga) in A Star Is Born. Before filming season two, Lee called Ramos one morning to say, “It just hit me -- you got to do a song, and I want you to write it.” For Ramos’ first major solo performance, he sang “Cry Today, Smile Tomorrow” -- a soulful track he and Wells wrote.
Major Meetup: Modest! Management helped Ramos arrange label meetings in late 2018; after speaking with Republic Records president of West Coast creative Wendy Goldstein for three hours, he had made up his mind. He signed a recording contract with the label in June, then hunkered down with Wells in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon neighborhood, writing 21 songs in 30 days. “It was supposed to be a five-song EP, but Wendy looked up at me after 13 songs and went, ‘This is an album.’ ”
Double Threat: Ramos describes his debut, The Good & The Bad, out Oct. 25 on Republic, as “real stories with banging beats” that reflect his upbringing in a Puerto Rican household in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (He plans to release some tracks in Spanish.) Ramos is also wrapping his next role, as the lead in the movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, coming June 2020. “Your boy is just trying to manage it all,” he says. “But it’s dope.”