R&B singer Mario stepped onto the scene at the tender age of 14, now he's developed into a mature young man with hit records under his belt, movie credits to his name, and reality dance star fame.
These days, the multi-talented crooner is baring it all. In our exclusive interview, he dishes about his career, love life, and sexual fantasies. Indeed, this handsome heartthrob has grown in more ways than one!
Mario: I became the underdog. I don’t think my music made me the underdog. I think people’s perception of me made me the underdog.
Your last album, "Go" was a little more sexually charged. Moving forward, are you going to be showcasing more of your sexual prowess?
Mario: That’s exactly why. I had great records on that album and I had a vision for it that me and my label just weren’t cohesive on. None-the-less the album is a great album and one of my favorite albums. But, it didn’t end up the way I wanted it to.
What are some of the things that you talk about on the new album?
Mario: I want each song to really be personality driven. I wanted them to be story driven, you know, chapters of my life. Whether it be dealing with women or just wanting to be that entertainer and have a song that would allow me to perform in a way that I’ve never done it before. Every song feels like it could be its own movie. I’m talking about very creative things. I have a song called "Let your Star Light Shine Down" that I did with The Dream. It’s about going after a woman. It’s dreamy…it’s swaggerized. On this album, I also wanted focus on musically, separating myself from everybody. When you hear it, you will know that I’m trying to move in a different direction to inspire other artists.
While promoting "Go" on 106 & Park, you gave a pretty passionate speech about how music is not moving in the direction that you think it should. How are other musicians in the game missing the mark?
Mario: I think in terms of content, labels are keeping artists in the box. Even with "Go" I tried to break outside of that and do different things musically and vocally that are out of the norm. I’m not going to name anybody specifically, but I think with me saying that I think it’s time for the show where I think music should be going. I want to create an album that is stimulating to my fans, and is also a competitive album.
Who would you consider to be your competitors?
Mario: I would consider Ne-Yo and Chris Brown competition. ..and anyone else doing R&B. But, were all working to keep our industry alive, so I’d consider them inspirational competition. It’s a blessing for us to still have award shows and for new awards show to be created.
Does it anger you when other cats get put on quicker than you? Especially when their talent is not equal to yours.
Mario: It doesn’t anger me. But, it definitely puts things into perspective for me. I’m not going to stop working hard to created music that feels good to me to sound like someone else. My goal is to be here ten years from now because I love music that much. I think I’ve shown that by doing things to expand my audience. I want my audience to be worldwide. With my new album, if you were a fan before, then you’re going to be pleased. If you weren’t fan and you buy the new album then you’re going to be intrigued.
Let’s get to the relationship stuff.
Mario: This is always tough for me because I’m such a personal person. I’ve shared a lot of personal things, but now I feel like I’m ready to really open up.
Were you dating Vanessa Simmons?
Mario: No, I never dated Vanessa Simmons. We’ve talked frequently, but we’d see each other out here and there, but I think she’s an extremely attractive woman with a great personality. I was interested in her but that was a while ago.
So, what happened?
Mario: Nothing happened. That’s the problem…nothing happened. (He laughs)
Were you involved with your ‘Dancing with the Stars’ partner, Carina?
Mario: Me and Carina…let me tell you. Carina and I were kinda, sorta clinging together. It just happened. When you spend that amount of time with someone – I mean we spent so much time together everyday. We weren’t dating, but there was definitely chemistry. Definitely, chemistry. There were some heated moments at times.
Who have you been seeing recently?
Mario: I had a long-term relationship going on with my high-school sweetheart and I kept it very, very private. A lot of the songs that I’ve sang in my career and a lot of the songs that you’ve heard on my album have a lot to do with her. For the most part, it was on and off, but she’s always been there. But, that’s over now and it’s almost been 8 months to a year.
Was it a messy breakup?
Mario: She made me really happy and she was there for me. Everybody needs something that’s real and it was. But it was tough. We hardly saw each other and it was tough with my career.
Is she in the music industry?
Mario: No. I found that I’m so into what I’m doing that I look back and realized that she didn’t need me. She deserved more. She deserves better. When I was with her she would say, ‘You need to look at things and put yourself in my shoes.’ When I was with her I was never able to do that. After being away from her, it’s easier for me to do it now. A woman needs more. She would always say, ‘I need more than what you’re giving me. It’s not financial and it’s not material things. It’s you.’
So, do you have your eye on anybody right now?
Mario: Hmm. I don’t really have my eye on anybody right now and if I do she’s probably already taken.
Describe your perfect female.
Mario: She is very open-minded, she’s artistic, she has a very humble spirit, very outgoing, exotic, energetic, she fears God. She’s a people person, she’s a good host – someone that knows how to have a good time. Physically, I’m not picky.
So, you like everybody?
Mario: Naw, I don’t like everybody.
But, you’re saying is that you could get down with a model chick or a thick chick?
What’s the thickest chick you’ve ever dated?
Mario: Not to that extent cause I don’t feel like I need to. I feel like I can do that without using autotune. Do I have a challenge anywhere out there? I’ll do it without it. I think it’s entertainment, man. It’s fun. I feel like if that’s what you’re selling, if that’s what you’re trying to give to your fans then great…but that’s why you need artists like me who don’t use it. I come with a whole other feeling. Our music is still going play on the same station. But I think music needs it. I’m just happy for anyone succeeding in the game right now because ten years from now with the way the economy is going right, hopefully those things will change.
How’s your Mom doing?
Mario: The most important thing is for my fans to understand me and be entertained. With this album, I want it be more of an experience. I’m going to create those nuances that make it more of an experience. I could shoot a movie to each song if I wanted to. This is my life, man. I spend everyday thinking about how to better myself as an artist. How to continue to grow and how I’m going to continue to make my music. I want to have that relationship with my fans that is inseparable.