When he sang “Let me love you,” knees got weak and many young girls fell for R&B singer and chocolate hottie Mario. Then when he was on Dancing With the Stars, we all raised our hands eager be his tango partner. Now, three years after his last solo project, Mario is once again counting on his female fans for support and perhaps a little more. “I consider my self a passionate lover. I love intimate connection,” admits Mario, who is currently recording. Oh, it’s like that!
The 26-year-old crooner spoke to CocoaFab this week about his upcoming album, how being a Virgo makes him pay extra special attention to his female friends, and he even opens up about his mother’s drug addiction and how that has made him a better, more mature man. Looks like there’s more to Mario than that irresistible smile.
I’ve caught you during a studio break. How is today’s recording session going?
“I’m in the studio, at this point in my album, which is untitled at the moment, we are about 85-95% finished and I feel like I need to add some different textures to the songs. So I have about 10 to 15 tracks that I’m pulling from. Usually I mix form scratch but this time I have about 15 tracks that I’m using from different producers. One is BAM, and he has a church background and he’s eclectic with his sound. So it’s soulful and ethereal. I’m listening to the track now and thinking about the words and the writing. It’s a tough process because it’s more about my mood and feelings that day that inspires the type of melodies I write. Typically when I write, I write the melodies first and then I write the words on top of the melody.”
You’re known for love songs and uptempo beats. What can fans expect from this upcoming album?
“[It’s about] love from different perspectives. Because my life growing up has lent itself to the rough and dark aspects, a lot of my music ends up having a dark sensuality. So this album is a bit darker but they are still love songs. It’s me dealing with a woman and love loss or love gained. One of my favorite songs is called ‘Fatal Distraction.’ Everybody has heard about a fatal attraction but we decided to do it differently. The record is about wanting something so bad and not being able to have it the way you want it and having that be a distraction to you. The song is very sensual and dark. It was produced by a guy named Bink. It’s a great mix between hip-hop and R&B. It’s really sexy and the melody that I put together shows a lot of my vocal growth. I’m singing in my falsetto which isn’t something I do a lot of. I usually use more of my full voice, but over the last year and a half I’ve been exploring different ways to test myself and to use my sound in different ways. It’s a great feel and a possible third single. This album will be coming out either September or October.”
Have you ever had a ‘fatal distraction,’ a girl you really wanted but who was no good for you?
“Yeah I have. Wow. It was my ex-manager’s ex-girlfriend. So it was a really bad situation. And that sort of influenced this song a little bit.”
Was she off limits because she was your manager’s ex-girlfriend at the time?
“At the time it was off limits. We knew each other for a long time and that influenced me. I was in a vey rebellious place in my life and I wasn’t using my head properly. It was fatal distraction. Looking back, that’s something I will never do again because as a man no matter how good the temptation may be it’s something I’ll never do again.”
But you’re human. And often times the women in your inner circle can become the biggest temptations.
“I think we always want what we can’t have. Until we get it, and then you realize it wasn’t for you in the first place.”
Your single “Somebody Else” with Nicki Minaj is a banger. Have you ever been the ‘somebody else’ in a relationship?
“I’ve always been the somebody else. Most of my relationships– and I’ve changed my frequency a bit—but a lot of the women I met a year or two years ago, they were either just getting out of a relationship or they are looking to get out of the relationship that they were currently in. So I’ve definitely been somebodies’ somebody else. And I’ve had situations where I’ve dated a girl and things didn’t work out and she leaves, then comes back. It’s all about what you put into the situation. Every cause has an effect. So it’s just the way the universe works out. You have to think about your decision because you’ll see the results in four of five months.”
Are you one of these guys who wants to really be in love or are you happy just dating?
“At this point in my life, I’m not really looking to be in love. My theory is that it takes two people to be in love and being in love is an agreement that you both make. Right now I’m looking to have really great relationships. Not just sexual or intimate relationships because that naturally happens, but relationships that are beneficial to growth, emotionally and spiritually and physically. I like having cool chicks around me. My perception of women has changed over the past three years. Because of the way I grew up, my perception of women was distorted and I think as a young man of color sometimes your upbringing can distort your view of women and you have to work to correct that. Being 26 now, I see life in a different way. I’m not looking to have one-on-one relationships, I’m looking to have a plethora of good healthy relationships that could possibly lead to something more serious in the future.”
Are you a good seducer in the bedroom?
“<Laughter> I don’t even know how to answer that question. I know what I like but to say what I would do to a woman, I can’t because every woman is different but what I can say, and I think this would be fair and accurate to say is that I pay a lot of attention. I pay close attention to the opposite sex. And if I’m interested in you, I pay even more attention. I’m a Virgo so we pay attention. I’m very attentive. So if I like someone I go all out. I make it very, very known that I like someone and I pay attention to the things she likes. It could be a month later, you might have something sitting on your bed and you thought I didn’t listen last month, but then I have it for you. It just depends what frequency of attraction we’re on. I do consider my self a passionate lover. I love intimate connection.”
You’ve been in the game for a long time, and you were one of the first celebrities to open up your life to the reality show cameras with your MTV documentary “I Won’t Love You To Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom”. Where is your relationship with your mom now? And how is she doing in her battle with addiction?
“At the time that I did that, I had just moved from Jersey back to Baltimore and I was staying with my mom to help her out. I was doing a day in the life with MTV and that turned into the documentary. There were some discussions about how personal or how raw it would be, and at the time I didn’t know much about reality shows, so I just thought ‘real is real’ and ‘lets just keep it 100.’ We decided to do it and they wanted to turn it into a longer reality show but I was fine with the one time thing and I wanted it to help my fans and inspire people around the world who were struggling with addiction. I wanted to show young adults that they could overcome. My mom got help at the time and she moved to Malibu for rehab and it was a positive step and experience for both of us to have. It really helped me take the burden off of having to see my mom every day struggle with her drug addiction. Right after that, I started my foundation and that was the impetus.”
What’s your relationship now with your mom?
“There are so many different variables but we’re good. We have better communication, better respect and understanding. And I think that us being away from one another for a little bit. After that, I moved to LA and she stayed in Maryland. That space allowed her to be a woman instead of me being the guardian over her telling her what to do. It allowed me to grow as a man, and it allowed her to decide where she wanted her life to go. At some point as a recovering addict, she had to decide where she wanted her life to go. This past year and a half or two that we’ve been apart, I’ve tried to let her do her and me focus on my career. I have to focus on being a better friend, son and a healthy individual and that, in turn, will help both of us.”
I’m sure that experience has taught you so much.
“Addiction is tough. And I realize now how much that affected the way I dealt with women and how many unhealthy places I was in with women. I’m finally free from it and it feels good to be free from certain thoughts and feelings and just the way I view women overall. Not having that natural, instinctual love that a mother is supposed to give a child made me look for it in other places. For a while, especially doing what I do [for a living], women are a dime a dozen and there isn’t a shortage there at all. So I was getting physical attention and sex but it wasn’t healthy because I was lacking this real love. It got to the point where I didn’t respect having a personal connection with a woman, versus the physical connection. I would view the physical connection as love moreso than having that personal connection. That’s not what I was taught and that’s not what my experiences had been.”
Wow. Your journey has been amazing and I’m sure the album will reflect that.
“I’m really excited to share new music with my fans and I cant wait to get on stage and perform. I think they will love connection with me through my album. I enjoy when fans Tweet me to say they are going to freak to my music. I do feel like there’s a lack of emotion in R&B music now, a lack of positive emotion. There’s aggressive music with materialism, but I fit in the middle. You get the aggressive but you get the emotional connection. That’s the position that I play and that’s the position my album will play in today’s music.”
Download Mario’s new single “Somebody Else,” produced by Polow Da Don and written my SICKPEN, JIMI BONET & MARIO