Don't judge an R&B singer by his songs, sometimes life becomes more about the blues than rhythm. In early October, blogs lit up with posts stating that Mario had been arrested in Baltimore for physically assaulting his mother, a recovering crack addict, during a heated argument. A month later the 24-year-old singer's mother retracted her statement, leaving Mario a free man. But is life back to normal? VIBE caught up with the still-charming artist to see where his head, heart and music is at.
VIBE: From an outside perspective it seems as if the second half of 2011 has been pretty stressful for you and you've been pretty incognito these last months. Where's your head been at?
Mario: I'm a real person and I've always kept my personal life sheltered from the blogs. My head, personally outside of music, is [focused on] getting to a place where I can continue to grow as the best man possible. Because one day—fuck the music, fuck the blogs— I'm going to be a father and I don’t want the things that I go through in this industry to effect my family.
Definitely. What's your relationship like with your mother now?
Not to go into exactly what happened that night, because to others [my life] is a little game to play because they think they know. At the end of the day whatever goes on at home stays at home. I'm just glad to be vindicated. I care about my mother’s health more than anything and her getting back on my feet. It really doesn’t matter what happened to me. And she'll tell you herself that I've always been there for her and will continue to be there for her.
How did you react when reading blog posts that adamantly stating you beat your mother?
I mean… I’m a pretty strong person and I've been that way all my life. I feel like some people are immature and can't even imagine a family setting like when I grew up. And then there’s some people that are like 'Yo I support him.' But I don’t want a pity party, I can deal with issues on my own. People like to bring people down, it makes people feel powerful. I’m a real man, I’m not a coward. I can sit and listen to a woman argue and curse and still be like 'Baby can we sit down and talk about this?' That’s a real man. A real man’s supposed to be a leader. Point blank period.
I think what made people more skeptical was at first reading news that you put your hands on your mother then later reading that she retracted that statement. What's the truth?
I'm not going to get into details out of respect for myself and my mother but I'll tell you this, if I had put my hands on my mother the way the press said I did and the way she initially did… I would be in jail. Come on, if you put your hands on a woman in this country you're going to suffer consequences in some type of way (I'm looking at you Chris Brown). The case was thrown out of court… I was in there for 5 minutes and they dismissed everything.
So for the record, you did not touch your mother in any way?
How is your mother doing right now, is she in rehab?
Right now she’s dealing with demons and angels and I'm right here by her side. But I have to focus on my career in order to help her. I've been distracted for a long time, so it's time for me to get back on my grizzy.
Definitely. After the charges came to light, you kinda backed away from the spotlight. Were you in a funk?
I wasn’t the happiest camper, but I don’t have time to let the devil consume my mind. I'm Muslim… I read the Qu'ran everyday and it brings peace to my heart and mind. That alone leaves me peaceful. Being with different girls, that shit doesn’t work, it used to but it doesn’t work anymore.
Is being a one-woman-man working out better for you?
[Laughs], you know what I really haven’t been focused on women in general. But really I had to do some soul searching. A dude like me is very passionate and loving so I expect that in return. I’m not ruthless out here like other guys in this industry. I gotta be careful with the woman I lay my head with.
Are you laying your head down with anyone now?
I am dating somebody, but it’s no pressure. I'm happy and I'm focusing on music.
Well it seems like you must really like this girl if we caught you on the blogs wearing matching outfits [laughs]. Is that what Mario does when he’s feeling a girl?
There you go. That was a fun day [laughs]. She looked beautiful and I felt good too so it is what it is.
So the happiness hasn’t ended with Dez?
[Laughs] Next question! I’ll say this, we were friends before anything and that’s my homie right there. And you know, anything else is between me and her.
Gotcha. What helped you refocus on music?
When you go through things like that, strength comes in. When you have to be stronger than people think you are, you just have to do it. I know theres something bigger for me out there and for my mom. I have a job to do… a very important job. And I love music. At the end of the day it all goes back to that. One of the most frustrating things is that when I make the music I wanna make it doesn’t always get out to my fans because there’s something called a record label that tries to change directions.
What direction are you trying to go with on this 5th album?
I wanna give as much honesty as I can. I want to be honest, but grab the attention of everybody, but still compete so when you hear it on the radio it’s pushing the envelope. The melodies coming out of me now are unorthodox— melodies I've never expressed before. Hopefully when I finally play it for my label, J Records, who’ve I always had a battle with… what they wanted, what I wanted… how they see me, how I see me... [they like it.]
How does your label see you?
More than anything it's been a battle because I've been with them since 15. So now being a grown man and having experiences that people don’t even know about and wanting to share them… to them it’s a risk and they just want me to just stay strictly R&B. But I want to make records that people can relate to. If I feel like the world is going to end tomorrow, I want to write about that. And I feel like I have the talent for it. Like you cant tell Marvin Gaye to not write "What’s going on" so if you tell me I'm one of the greatest singers of my generation, than why won't you let me emote and tell my story? My story isn’t about some young pop star who came through at 15 and made it. Nah. I got struggles. I went through things just like another young man in the streets. And of course I have my experiences with women, that’s not going anywhere, but that’s the easy part as far as writing goes. It’s about finding that happy music between organic real music and mainstream music.
Definitely, how deep are you with this album?
I'm just getting into the crevices of that thing right there. You know it’s the 5th album so I'm on pins and needles. I haven’t been fully focused on it just yet, but I've got five tracks that are definitely going on. And they’re like movies, they’re intense.
Do you think you'll write a song centered on your mother?
I think with the direction I’m going in there will be a track that lends itself to that.
What about this mixtape coming out first... what can we expect from that?
Well, I’ve been working on it for three months now, it’s all original music. I’ve always been a fan of giving away original shit. Its straight R&B music. The album is definitely deeper, but this mixtape is for the people that are like 'We don’t wanna hear no pop records from you Mario, you’re one of the greatest singers of our generation, we wanna hear you sing nigga.' That should be dropping around December 26. Even with all the ups and downs this year has been really motivating and I feel ready. It's time for another run. V