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:: Spotlight :: Ashlene's spotlight interview for March

By: Ashlene Nand

Ashlene speaks to Mario about growing up, finding love, and the new album Turning Point.

Standing next to Angie Martinez on the set of Ja Rule’s new video clip for ‘New York, New York’, Hot 97’s infamous disc jockey exclaims to her friends “Have you heard Mario’s new single? Damn who would have thought?” Yep, he’s back. ‘Let Me Love You’ is the new single from the newly single (ladies where you at?) Mario, J Records’ R&B teen sensation. Not only has Mario grown up, he’s brought a whole lot more experiences with him on his new album, candidly titled, Turning Point.

I finally get Mario on the phone and the first thing I sense is his level of maturity. He’s all dressed up in a suit on his website and ‘Let Me Love You’, another brilliant Scott Storch production, is a far cry from that teeny bopping music your 12-year-old sister blares out from her bedroom. “That’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted this song to be my first single. It’s not something people will expect from me or from a Scott Storch production. I’ve got Cassidy on a track…also Juvenile on a Lil Jon track called ‘Boom’. I hope people appreciate me as an artist and what I’m trying to do (with my music). I want to be known years from now as someone who made enjoyable music.”

The truth about growing up in the spotlight is that you mature twice as fast. Mario is the perfect example. Only 15 years of age when his first album was released, three years later he is at it again, ready to take on all the promotional responsibilities for his new album. “Everything feels natural with me growing up in this (music) world, travelling and experiencing new things… my voice has changed, my lifestyle has changed, and of course my music has changed along with that. I now have the vocal ability that allows me to create situations, in a way that you will be able to feel them (on a song) if you were listening to it. It’s helped me bring my album to life.”

And has the love life changed? “Yes, situations in my life have changed. I’m kind of single right now. I was in a relationship and it didn’t work out the way I expected it to. A lot of the problems in my relationship didn’t have anything to do with my career… it just didn’t work out, you know? I have some songs on the album that talk about that…it’s not so much about love as it is about the different situations when love is in place.”

The state of R&B is questionable. Will it dominate hip-hop as it once did on the charts? What will change about the genre, which has changed in form over so many decades? Such a question might get lost on any teenager but not on Mario. “I think there are a lot of young artists coming out doing really good on the R&B tip. I think R&B can definitely make a comeback, it’s just the way they introduce themselves (as artists), so people can understand who they are. They need to do music about them, real music, not just something that’s made up to make everyone feel good. People want something that’s real, do you understand what I’m saying? Like Marvin Gaye did….” Damn, who would have thought?

Written by Ashlene for

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