Mario Opens Up About Label Drama

Published: Sunday 5th Dec 2010 by Sam

It’s been a difficult 2010 for Mario. Indeed, the year has seen the R&B crooner struggle musically, going on to find public disfavour after being charged with assaulting his mother. Despite being vindicated shortly after, when her drug abuse was revealed to be the true issue, the dropping of the charges certainly didn’t make the headlines his initial arrest did.

In any case, the 24 year old is pressing on and beginning work on his 5th studio album. Not one to hold his tongue, however, he in a recent interview with VIBE magazine, revealed the continued “battles” he is having with his record label.

His comments after the jump…


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.

Here’s hoping Mr Mario does find that happy medium which appeases both his artistic integrity and label’s needs. For, as new and established artists know, the “major label” is still a necessity in becoming both nationally and internationally successful. Matters may be changing due to the net and other independent tools shifting the power to(wards) the people. We are, however, not there just yet. Hence, for genuinely talented folk such as Mario – it’s about compromise.

Your thoughts?

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  1. luvmedj December 5, 2010

    I can kinda see where the label is coming from with this certain situation where they want the artist to stick to what made them who they are. Sometimes artists will pick singles and material thats so far left from what established them as artists and thats where they fail. Then you have other times where the labels have no damn idea wat der doin and pick singles that causes the artist to fail as well. I’ve been a huge fan of Mario and his music, his last album could have been promoted better, especially with that HUGE hit of a single Break Up feat Gucci. I wish him luck tho.

  2. Diagnosticluv December 5, 2010

    Great interview and post. Real honesty.

  3. SDW December 5, 2010

    I hope Mario gets to release the music that he wants. Because I wasn’t too keen on him until I heard unreleased tracks like “Stuttering” and “Promise Land” and and those were some of the most amazing tracks I ever heard. He is real talented and I love how he displays his emotions so well in a song.

  4. Dunster December 5, 2010

    Wow! a record label who wants you to stay you. I got time for j-records, they keep J-Hud, jazmine Sulivan, Monica and Fantasia – I’m sure most record companies would’ve dropped them if they had decided to change

  5. Beyonce Owns Your Fav. December 5, 2010

    That is why music is going down the drain because these record labels are limiting there artist to be one dimensional. People always point fingers at the artist for being ‘generic’ when it really is the label we should be coming for.

  6. Beyonce Owns Your Fav. December 5, 2010


    The record label does not want him to stay him, they want him to be the person who used to be. Artistry is about moving forward, not doing the same thing over and over. He’s obviously not in the same mindframe he was when he was 15. He has evolved as a man and as a thinker and I think if he wants to talk about world issues than he should be able to do that. If he wants to talk about his struggles he should be able to do that. He shouldn’t be limited to the same ole love songs that every other r&b artist is doing.

  7. ~aMaZiNG.Lee~ December 5, 2010

    I LOVE Mario! He is the most underrated male artist IMO. He always makes good music, so I think if he’s able to incorporate substance and depth with his life story/struggles and world issues, he’d really be a force to be reakoned with! Either way I’d still be a big fan of his.

  8. Kathy December 5, 2010

    I think what the real issue is is that they want him to stay in his lane, r&b/soul, but he wants to go mainstream pop. As far as staying soul,rnb I think the label knows what they are doing…. Look at the people signed to their label…. If Mario doesn’t want to stay r&b anymore, sign with another label. The picture is painted clearly here. i’M SURE THE LABEL UNDERSTANDS HE’S GROWN. They just want to make sure he still making good r&b songs in the process, and not just radio garbage.

  9. eric December 5, 2010

    Growing is different from conforming. Growth is what Mario showed when he moved from jerseys and sweats to blazers and suits. Growth is the artistic integrity that Mario showed when he dared to be different with “Here I Go Again” and had the full support of the label to make it a single that he performed here and all over Europe. It was a gradual change of growth and maturity, but sadly he abandoned that path on his next two albums. His newer material removed him from some of the places that had long supported him (ie Nickelodeon, Top of the Pops) and he began playing clubs; and that’s pretty much where he’s pigeonholed himself. He can’t bounce around stage aggressive and struggling to hold his pants up and still expect people to recognize him as the honest gentleman from “Let Me Love You”. I hope the label is telling him to pull up his pants and sing because he IS one of the greatest singers of this generation. Don’t waste it on another low substance “Break Up” and not one more over-explicit bedroom video. What works for a moment is not always what’s right for the long term.

  10. December 5, 2010

    It’s so easy to blame record labels, but labels do give artists some artistic freedom — once their album sales show and prove. Besides, I don’t want to hear ghetto R&B music like “Break Up” or anything else Sean Garrett writes for Mario. Mario had his best work with Scott Storch…hopefully, that’s in the works

  11. theman December 5, 2010

    How the hell was “Break Up” ghetto, that was a nice lil club song, a departure for him. You gotta grow as an artist.

  12. VA STAND UP!! December 6, 2010

    Wow! I had no idea that that was the outcome of his situation with his mom! SMH. Yeah, the media was so quick to blow the story up but of course you barely hear anything when the truth comes! So unfair! They mad it seem like he went a** sh*t on her! SMH.

    I felt for Mario though. I knew something was up with his mom cause that didn’t sound like him at all! I hope his true friends stayed loyal to him during his ordeal.

    The drama with his record label sounds very typical. Artist wants to explore his creativity, try new sounds, take risk and the label says no…we gotta remain ‘safe’ do what sells. Same old story. Mario has a beautiful voice and is a really talented under rated dude. He has had some really great material and several big hits, but sadly for some artist no matter how talented they are, they just never make it ‘big’. Some artist just lack the ‘it’ factor. It’s sad but true.

    I really hope he can sort out the issues in his personal life and get his career back on track. LIke I said, I don’t think he will ever be huge, but I’m rooting for him!

  13. VA STAND UP!! December 6, 2010

    Oh yeah…and he looks horrible in that pic! Ugh! He should NEVER shave his head again! His head is too damn big! With those shot gun nostrils. Whew chile….

  14. World wide chica December 7, 2010

    Record labels want want they can profit from. Who would blame them? Mario just needs to prove he can sale what he’s wanting to take risk with, thats all. Maybe a mixtape or a few features.

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