Baltimore native Mario is testing more than a newly shaved head these days, he’s also trying his hand at a more mature offering with the release of his fourth album “D.N.A.” Although the subject matter follows the usual formula: love and heartbreak, it’s the musical composition that earns Mario extra points.
The lead single “Break-up” featuring Sean Garrett and Gucci Mane kicks off the theme of infusing bass-heavy, highly synthesized beats with Mario’s signature croon. “Thinkin’ About You,” is pretty self-explanatory but the song’s robotic space aged sexiness thankfully stops it from being just another sappy love song.
Even “Get Out,” which would ordinarily be higher in drama than in clap beats, sounds funky and cool rather than fed-up and tired. Mario cleverly puts a twist on the familiar story of being trapped in a bad relationship. He expresses to his woman that they have nowhere else to go but down with a tenderness and honesty that makes such a horrible reality actually sounds pretty nice.
“Starlight” produced by The Dream & Tricky Stewart is an ode to Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” borrowing from the same recipe but adding new ingredients, making for a modern twist. Giving a nod to his Baltimore/D.C. roots “Before She Said Hi,” (featuring G.O.O.D Music’s Big Sean) is the most noticeable go-go specific track, that is perfection indeed.
Null of very few bumps on an otherwise smooth ride “D.N.A” is refreshingly different in a sea of R&B that tends to sound a little monotonous. Because the ballads aren’t nearly as interesting as the rest of the album, it’s no wonder that they’re few and far between. Even still though, they’re not that bad. The pop-friendly “I Miss My Friend,” straddles the fence between being too sugary for words but interesting by way of the incessant drum machine, while “Stranded” is just very plain.
I applaud Mario for stepping outside the box and not relying solely on a few bars from one rapper after another to sell the album. Instead he takes a risk amping up his “grown and sexy” mantra but keeping things fun by shedding his previous skin and showing the manhood in his “D.N.A.”
3 Picks: “Break-up” “Thinkin’ About You” “Before She Said Hi”