Discovered at the tender age of eleven while performing at a Baltimore, MD talent show, Mario Dewar Barrett has since come a long way. Having released his debut album in 2002, Mario hasn't led the typical rags-to-riches R&B fairytale, as the MTV documentary 'I Won't Love You To Death: The Story Of Mario And His Mom' will attest to - documenting the pair and their struggle with her heroin addiction. It's fitting then that 'Break Up' is as far from a run of the mill R&B song. Its discordant introduction explodes into beefy melodies and floor-hugging basslines, a cappella sections and sparse rhythmic gymnastics. The lead single from Mario's fourth album 'D.N.A.' rivals previous effort 'Let Me Love You' in terms of crossover potential. However, while that particular single may have launched the star of Ne-Yo, Mario's vocal charisma ensures that 'Break Up's spotlight shines firmly on himself. ~ James Sharples (c) Shazam Entertainment Limited 2009. All rights reserved
Go was the most satisfying of Mario's first three albums, but it lacked a major crossover single on the level of "Let Me Love You." Although the sensitive ballad "Crying Out for Me" was big on R&B stations, it did not break the Top 30 of the Hot 100. The minimal Sean Garrett and Shondrae production "Break Up," however -- D.N.A.'s lead single, issued weeks before the album -- did not take long to become the singer's biggest pop hit since his breakthrough. And it does turn out to be his fourth album's greatest deviation from the back catalog, carrying a laggard and sparse pulse to back Mario's whiny swagger. "Get Out" is a close second, a buzzing and grinding production from Jim Jonson and Rico Love that mirrors the song's theme of emotional entrapment. One of the hardest beats Mario has had at his disposal, it pushes him into that tough guy mode (as heard occasionally in Go) where you can sense him forcing his jaw to tighten and his eyes to bug out: "This ain't real, so what the f*ck is we doin'?" Even with several new collaborators, including some of the aforementioned, Babyface, Carlos McKinney, the-Dream, and Tricky Stewart, D.N.A. is more a natural development than a series of drastic shifts, and while it will please the majority of the fan base, the material does not allow Mario -- a vocalist more versatile than many would like to admit -- to do much more than toggle between a Lothario and a softie. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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