It’s not so much that Gyanma wants to give heartbreakers a pass, but he’s down for injecting some nuance into the conversation around them. This, at least, is partly the main theme of his new EP Rompecorazones. “[The album] blurs the line between who’s the heartbreaker and who’s the one getting heartbroken, and how that whole situation lives in a gray area,” he tells Remezcla. “It starts off spiteful, but as you keep listening, you notice the tone changes as more is revealed.”
In fact, part of the fun of listening to Rompecorazones is following the way each song approaches the subject from different angles in both subtle and overt ways. Undoubtedly Gyanma’s most mature effort yet, he structures the album in a way not too dissimilar from the stages of grief, this time in the aftermath of a break-up.
The inextricable link between music and heartfelt emotion was at the forefront since he was introduced to the medium in the first place. “My dad was a merenguero in the ‘90s. He was a background singer for Olga Tañón, so on weekends he’d always bring home music and that bohemian energy with his friends, and being around that inspired me to take up songwriting.” Onward from that, he took up his first instrument, the violin—“Suzuki method, for the record.” And after getting into a prestigious high school via a music scholarship, he set his sights on a higher goal for his education. “From there, I just hustled so I could get into Berklee [College of Music], where I studied production, composition. It was a very open-ended area of concentration.”
That freedom to dabble ended up being fortuitous, evident in his extracurricular musical ventures between semesters. “As I’d travel back and forth between Boston and Puerto Rico, I’d start cover bands, doing different takes… mixing reggaetón and rock or neo-soul,” he says. Those inspired attempts to crossover genres presaged how Gyanma presents his music nowadays as a full-fledged solo act. “I can’t say my music fits under any specific genre, but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s very R&B-based but fused with the indie [rap] scene,” he says. “[My] voice is one that also fits in a rock song, or a pop song, or even a ballad because the lyrics have personality. They can be dirty like they can also be poetic, and all of that defines the sound.”
That poeticness comes through not just in the quality of the metric but also in the general gravitas with which Gyanma took on this project. “I wanted something with a bit more of a storyline. I like doing EPs, and so far all of them have had some kind of theme. But with this one, I was more dedicated to the coherence of it.”
The opening title track, “Rompecorazones,” firmly puts the onus of the relationship’s end on the partner’s shoulders, tagging them with the burden of being the initial heartbreaker and causing him pain. It’s followed by “Tóxico,” in which an aggrieved Gyanma lambasts his ex’s friends for dragging his good name through the mud. Clearly, we’re at the Anger stage of grief. “KSA” presents a man intent on moving on and seducing a new conquest, and the words are there, but not the conviction. He boasts he’s ready to spend big, be a stud, and get busy, but we don’t feel he believes it himself. The wounds are still too fresh. With the next track, “Me Dañé,” the cards are laid on the table. Bargaining and Depression come to a head as Gyanma acknowledges his own role in the split, accepting his transgressions while also arguing he “wasn’t always like this.” One begins to question who, in fact, is the titular heartbreaker. By the last song, “En La Lenta,” he might not have entirely achieved Acceptance, but there is a note of resignation in his words and voice.
The sober subject matter doesn’t preclude Rompecorazones from being a repeat listen, either. That’s a testament to Gyanma’s fun wordplay and catchy production, all in a package that has been in the works for months. “It’s the first project under my ALAS label, and we wanted to release a full package with visuals, art, music video, and all of that,” he says.
“Opportunities lost, goals that seem out of reach, and of course hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics—it’s a whole lot to go through while trying to make your music and dreams come true, especially when you’re not an artist with the backing of a big label that’s giving you an advance… It’s all part of doing it for the love of art.”
ALAS, or “Ante La Adversidad, Sigue” (Against Adversity, Keep Going) is not just a label but a private recording studio and performance space and the next step in his burgeoning career. Founded alongside longtime associate Raúl Santos, it represents a leap for artist independence in a brave new world that isn’t always (if ever) friendly to those who start from the bottom with big dreams. The name itself is a reference to that journey. “[It] comes from the past five years and all the hustle we’ve gone through and all the pitfalls. Opportunities lost, goals that seem out of reach, and of course hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics—it’s a whole lot to go through while trying to make your music and dreams come true, especially when you’re not an artist with the backing of a big label that’s giving you an advance… It’s all part of doing it for the love of art,” he says.
With a project as assured and solid as Rompecorazones leading the way, Gyanma is right on track to make a name for himself and prove he should be in the conversation.
Liste to Rompecorazones below.