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Rauw Alejandro Announces ‘Fiery’ New Album Inspired by ‘West Side Story’ and Broadway

Rauw Alejandro Announces ‘Fiery’ New Album Inspired by ‘West Side Story’ and Broadway

When it comes to Rauw Alejandro and his music, the singer has a genuine curiosity that drives him to constantly experiment and grow as an artist.

The Puerto Rican singer — whose real name is Raúl Alejandro Ocasio Ruiz — is a musical chameleon whose exploratory approach has resulted in a wide range of genres including trap, reggaeton, synth-pop, R&B and electronic music.

Case in point, the first single from his upcoming fifth studio album. “Touching the Sky,” released in May, is a pop-disco dance that introduces fans to his new era. And one of the first times fans will get to experience this new chapter will be when the 31-year-old performs July 12 as part of TODAY’s Citi Concert Series at 30 Rock Plaza.

“I’m really, really excited about this show. I remember watching a lot of artists when I was a kid do the TODAY show. It’s really, really special to me,” he tells TODAY.com. “I also have a lot of family in New York, and there’s a lot of Puerto Ricans in the city, so it’s like a second home.”

Speaking about his upcoming mini-concert, he said fans can expect a “summer vibe — fun, lots of dancing and energy.”

“I have a surprise for my fans,” he adds, before confirming that “Touching the Sky” and “Todo de Ti” will be among the songs he’ll be singing live with the band. But he’s keeping the rest a secret.

“(Performing with a live band) is something I haven’t done in a long time, and it gives the music a different feel. Live instruments, everything feels real and present. I think it’s going to be something special.”

Many eras of Rauwa Alejandro

Since his early days on SoundCloud—making music and releasing his first mixtape, Punto de Equilibrio, in 2016—Alejandro has always been open to the unknown.

Alejandro was born into a musical family, his father was guitarist Raúl Ocasio and his mother was singer María Nelly Ruiz. Alejandro’s childhood was filled with music, from Elvis Presley, James Brown and Michael Jackson, to Daddy Yankee and Wisin y Yandel. His first passion was soccer, which he played from the age of 7, hoping to become a professional. However, at the age of 21, he abandoned the sport after an injury, turning to his other hobby, music, for solace.

Alejandro, who started out at a time when a new generation of reggaetoneros was forming that included Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, Myke Towers and many others, brought something to the genre that no one else did: dancing.

Alejandro’s willingness to diversify his music, his fluid moves, choreographed performances and music videos put him in a category of his own.

Other artists have noticed his meteoric rise, including Selena Gomez, Shakira, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, who have all collaborated with Alejandro. He also released an EP, RR, last year with singer and then-girlfriend Rosalía.

For the past two years, the Latin Grammy Award winner has ranked among the top 10 Latin artists of the year on Billboard, ranking No. 3 in 2022.

He says that with each album he tries to breathe life into a new character that represents the music he creates.

“I always try to reflect sounds in how I look and how I present myself,” he explains.

Rauw Alejandro. (Marco Perretta)

While his 2020 debut album Afrodisíaco appealed to reggaeton and Latin trap listeners, 2021’s Vice Versa took an electro-pop, house-infused turn with more funk. “Todo de Ti,” the album’s second single, became one of the summer’s top songs, peaking at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart.

He followed it up with “Saturno,” a return to reggaeton mixed with intergalactic sounds set to ’80s-inspired, high-tempo dance tracks. He surprised fans with a follow-up album nearly eight months later titled “Playa Saturno.” The project featured his smooth vocals crooning against party anthems and heartbreaking melodies—fitting, since he and Rosalía announced a few weeks after the album’s release that they had called off their engagement.

Now, after one look at his Instagram and the “Touching the Sky” music video, fans have guessed that Alejandro’s latest chapter will be more of a vintage, ’50s New York vibe. The singer is just teasing a little more about what to expect TODAY.

“This new era is a little more classic,” Alejandro says, describing it as “‘West Side Story’ – more Broadway.”

As for how that will translate into his next album — and when it will be released — he remains a mystery. “It’s not ready yet, but hopefully soon,” he says. “These songs are too good to be in the studio.”

However, he admits that New York is the inspiration for what is happening.

“I’m a big fan of visual content, like movies. I would go to libraries just to get inspired. I spent a lot of time in the city,” Alejandro says of his constant desire to innovate. “The city has so much to offer artists, and I just learn and try new things.”

Alejandro, who has been working on the album since August 2023, says he likes to take his time with the creative process. “People want music every Friday these days,” he says. “I think every artist should take their time and just enjoy whatever they’re doing at the moment… it takes time to get to the next level.”

Despite the wait, he boasts with a little chuckle: “I think it’s going to be fire. But something that’s for sure… it’s the opposite of what I’ve done (before). I don’t like repeating projects.”

With that comes the excitement of the look and giving it a new twist. Fashion, he says, is incorporated into his creative process as he comes up with the “character” of each of his designs.

“What kind of outfits will this character have? What accessories does it have, what’s the vibe?” he says. “This creature is really cool and I think I’ll always wear it my arena granite.”

From Puerto Rico to 30 Rock

Raised in Canóvanas and Carolina, Puerto Rico, Alejandro says the island is close to his heart and his art. He proudly represented his homeland at the 2024 Met Gala, where his custom Swarovski crystal mesh top, created by Ludovic de Saint Sernin, featured the “flor de maga,” Puerto Rico’s national flower.

“Home is everywhere now. But My home is in PR. I miss PR. I was in New York working on these projects, also in Europe,” he says, adding that he likes to imagine himself on “play” With “neck.”

His homeland is also close thanks to the group of “brothers” he surrounds himself with; his entire work team comes from Puerto Rico and has known him since high school.

“We take the island with us, so I always feel close to home, because I think home is the people we love,” she says.

Rauw Alejandro. (Marco Perretta)

Maintaining those friendships is key to Alejandro’s well-being. “Imagine just being in an office—all year, all life—just working, and your family is far away,” he explains. “But working in an office with your people is so much more enjoyable. We have our (inside jokes), we have memories that we share, it helps ground you.”

He adds in Spanish: “You are constantly reminded of who you are because there are people around you who remind you of where you come from.”

Alejandro’s mother also works with him, so they spend time together during the artist’s busy schedule. To relax, he takes a family vacation for a few weeks every year.

“This is my moment to disconnect and enjoy every bit of success and hard work,” she says. “It’s a really nice feeling. To be able to provide for my family has been one of my goals in life.”

For some, the start of a new decade can be overwhelming, but Alejandro sees these years as life lessons that help him grow.

“30 is the new 20, so I feel like I’m still 20. I’ve always been an old soul with a young spirit,” he says, noting his love of classical music, jazz, bossa nova and salsa. “You grow up, you learn, and it makes you a better person, a better artist. Every experience I had 20 years ago is now.”

But one thing he knows from his years in the industry is that these are great times for the future of Latin music.

We have it planned. We have the sauce. I think there will always be fire. Latin artists have so much to offer the new generations that are coming up,” he says.

Then he adds with a laugh, “I’m still making music, so everything will be fine, everything will be OK. I’m still working, I’m not retired, so there will always be great music.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com