Mario Winans has accomplished more than many musicians twice his age. Some of hip-hop, R&B and gospel music's most well respected artists have been blessed with Mario's nimble production talents and thoughtful lyricism. His resume reads like a nomination list on Grammy night: Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, R.Kelly, Jennifer Lopez, Brian McKnight, The Notorious B.I.G., P.Diddy, 702 and of course, his own Winans family.
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Mario's story begins in his grandmother's kitchen. "I was constantly banging on the pots and pans with wire hangers," explains Mario with a laugh. "As far as I was concerned, I was playing the drums." His fascination with percussion continued throughout his childhood, nurtured by his world-renown Winans gospel family. In school, he was an attentive student, studying music in a formal fashion. But after school, he headed straight for his room and made the beats he wanted to hear.
"I know how to read music," says Mario, who also plays various instruments including the piano, drums and keyboard. "But for me, composing music has always been about passion and feeling." Mario's turning point as a producer came when his mother, the famous gospel singer, Vickie Winans, brought home a room full of recording equipment. "I just taught myself how to operate every machine in there. And from then on, I was making beats constantly."
Only one week after graduating from high school, Mario produced an entire gospel album for a local group. A trip to Atlanta resulted in a meeting with producer Dallas Austin who, impressed with the young man's production, signed him as an in-house producer. Work with R. Kelly soon followed and Mario quickly developed his reputation as a top-notch producer and songwriter.
Mario never gave much consideration to becoming a recording artist. However, after being persuaded, he began pursuing a solo project under Motown Records. Things were moving slowly and he needed to move to the next level. "I called a friend of mine who was cool with P. Diddy," says Mario. "In five minutes, I was on the phone with him. He knew my work and he said he thought I had what it took to be a BadBoy. Within a week, we were getting the paperwork together."
The culmination of a decade's long journey is the Mario Winans' Bad Boy debut, Hurt No More. This is soul music that bridges the gap between the hard-edged flavor of modern day R&B music and the honest, vulnerable passion in the music of years gone by. Vulnerability is a key theme on Hurt No More. Mario brings an earnest, sincere approach to his music that hasn't been heard in years. "This record is about relationships, pure and simple. We all have hearts. Sometimes we have to look deeper into what we're saying and doing to the people we care about. At the bottom of these fights, it's usually always something deeper."
The album begins with his well-received first single, "I Don't Wanna Know" (featuring Enya & P.Diddy), where he goes to a place that few R&B singers have never gone before-the decision to face a woman's infidelity and choosing to ignore it. "I express my emotions best through music. I like music that makes your stomach tight. That kind of music that hits that spot that makes you forget everything except your feelings at that moment. I'm singing this for everybody. Women need to know that men have the same hearts they do. We still have to be men about it because you can take our kindness for weakness. But I did that song for all of us. Once and for all, yes, men hurt too," he says.
"Three Days Ago" is an open letter to someone who is deeply missed. A universal theme, the record could easily be about a loved one, a child or a parent. "Disbelief" a modernized mid-tempo with delicate keys throughout, Mario's silky voice weaves in and out of the track with ease, lending credence to the painful lyrics about a vacillating lover. "Can't Judge Me" makes it clear that Mario is not all about wallowing in pain and sorrow. Over intricate production, he warns his woman not to take him for granted-a theme that both women and men can understand. "Pretty Girl Bullsh*t" is a complex, techno-influenced instrumentation with a heavy bass line that exhibits his no-nonsense side. He flips his suave and understanding side for the inner core of any man who has more than enough of a neck-swiveling woman with no respect for her man.
"I've been in a lot of the experiences on this record," says Mario. "And I can talk about them. I can sing about them. As long as I'm making people feel, I'm doing what I was put here by God to do."
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