Anthony Lewis hopes to walk in the footsteps of R&B greats. The 18-year-old Los Angeles native became a teen sensation after his remake of Soul for Real’s 1995 hit, “Candy Rain,” received over two million views on YouTube.
Lewis, who is preparing to release his debut album, spoke with rolling out about his journey.
What is your first memory of R&B music?
In R&B, I’d definitely have to say Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, really just all the greats that’s been in the game because they tell so much. When they’re on stage, they tell a story. That’s what music is, just telling a story.
You came on the scene by doing a remake of the Soul for Real hit, “Candy Rain.” How did you decide on releasing that remake?
In my household, you would only hear old-school music. But, when I heard “Candy Rain,” I was like, “This joint is tight, who wrote this?” Then everybody stopped the music and was like, “You don’t know who wrote [it]?” They forgot I was born in 1997. So they schooled me on Heavy D’s group. That was a No. 1 hit. Devante Swing did the beat. But when he presented me the record, I fell in love with it. I just felt like that record really fit me as an artist. That’s how everything came about.
Whose idea was it to get T.I. on board for the “It Ain’t My Fault” single?
After releasing “Candy Rain,” we went to the BET Experience. BET Experience is happening in downtown L.A. and the first big artist I ran into was T.I., which is the craziest thing in the world. I went back to the studio with my producer and I heard “It Ain’t My Fault.” I told him that was my first single. He asked me what rapper I thought would go good on it and I said, God put T.I in front of me today so why not T.I.? After I recorded it, they called me upstairs in the studio. We listened to the song and then I heard T.I on my record. It was such a shocking moment for me that I almost cried. That’s how crazy it was because my dreams were coming true. That’s such a blessing to me because I was just on YouTube putting random videos up and now I’m doing it for real. T.I. actually came to the video shoot. We just shot the video about three weeks ago and it’s coming out this week. When I first ran into T.I., he said, “I really feel like you have what it takes, just stay humble and you stay grounded.” I feel like that’s so big from a successful artist. He’s been there. I think that’s totally a blessing.
Teenage R&B stars run the risk of experiencing too much fame, too quickly. What are you doing to ensure that you stay grounded, and avoid some of the mistakes of teen stars who came before you?
My father was the lead singer of Az Yet and my mother was signed to Overbook and Dr. Dre. So the whole family is really musical. It’s important for me to listen to my team and my parents. That’s all that matters. When you listen to your parents and your team, because they’ve been there, you can’t get a big head on your shoulders. It’s just the beginning and I want to see how far this goes. They always tell me to stay humble and to keep God first. There was a point in my life to where I wanted to give up. I’m just a regular kid so anyone would want to give up when stuff is hard. But when I finally realized that God gave me this gift for a reason, he put me on this Earth for a reason, I know this is exactly what I have to do. So I definitely say stay focused and put your mind to whatever you want.
How do you want to impact music in the next decade?
I want people to see that I was a young kid that came from nothing. I’m not a ‘hood kid, I’m not ghetto, but there was a point in my life where I was really ignorant and lost. I tried to be something I wasn’t. What I want to show people is you don’t have to be somebody else in order for people to like you. Just be who you are. I want to show people that you can be whoever you want to be if you put your heart and your mind to it. I hope one day I do make it and give back to my family and my community.