"It was great," Baltimore native Mario said a couple of weeks ago about having rap legend Biz Markie in his video for "Just a Friend 2002." "He's a funny man. He's real cool people. When I first met him at the video shoot, he was like, 'I love the joint, you blazed it.' That was just like a big moment for me. He's a hip-hop icon. Biz is the greatest."
Mr. T better look out, because the author of such classics as "Nobody Beats the Biz," "Pickin' Boogers" and "Vapors" is taking all his light as the new comeback kid. It's been almost 10 years since the Diabolical One released his last album of new material, All Samples Cleared, but Biz, who's been a staple on the club and college party scene during the interim, has been extra busy lately stepping out in front of the masses.
Ticket-buyers across the land are getting to peep him as Will Smith's intergalactic beat-boxing b-boy buddy in the sequel to "Men in Black." Before then, Biz Mark laid vocals for Jay-Z's "Girls, Girls, Girls" and did his signature namesake dance in the video. Probably the biggest shine he's getting lately, though, comes courtesy of Clive Davis' crooning boy wonder: Mario's "Just a Friend 2002," which pays homage to one of the rapper's most celebrated smashes, has become a hit, and Biz can be caught rhyming on the remix.
Mario said a couple of weeks ago in New York he wasn't aware of Biz's 1989 classic "Just a Friend." "I didn't know nothing about it, but when I first heard it I was like, 'That joint is hot, I'm glad I remade it.' That was a big hit for him back in the day, right?"
The idea for Mario's song was the brainchild of the track's producer, Warryn Campbell.
"He played it for me over the phone," Mario recalled. "I didn't really get a chance to get into it, but when I went into the studio to record the song, that's when I [realized] this song would be real perfect for me. 'You say I'm just a friend' a 15-year-old talking to an older girl, perfect song."
Turns out the young buck has an affinity for the ladies who have a few years up on him.
"Yeah, man," he laughed after making the admission. "For real, I do man. I like older girls. But I'm going to slow it down a little bit, 'cause you know, I'm not trying to move too fast."
On his self-titled debut, which drops July 23, "What Your Name Is" finds Mario singing about spitting game to a chick who's reluctant to rob his cradle.
"Basically I'm with an older girl and I'm asking her, 'You want to go out with me?' " he explained. "We're having a conversation. I know what her name is, but in the song she's older than me, and she ain't trying [to go out with me]. So I'm like, 'What your name is? When are we going to chill?' "
Mario did get to spend Q.T. with a sexy elder while recording his LP, though. Alicia Keys, whom he refers to as a big sister, wrote two songs for him: "The 2 Train" and "Put Me On" (see "The Next Alicia Keys Might Be A Boy Named Mario").
"On 'Put Me On,' Alicia is talking at the beginning of the song," he divulged. "I'm playing basketball and I'm like, 'Who's that girl you were with the other day?' She came through and I'm like, 'I like her so why won't you put me on?' That's basically what that's all about. 'The 2 Train' is about me. I like this girl and we chill a lot. Her pops isn't really feeling me but her mother loves me. The only time we get to chill is on the 2 train."
Only a sucker would bet that Mario will be traveling via iron horse while promoting his upcoming project. He'll undoubtedly be on a tour bus, but he just isn't sure as of yet how many stops his vehicle will be making. He's currently in negotiations to appear on Bow Wow's Scream 2 Tour with B2K and IMX (see "Bow Wow Sniffs Out A Trail For Tour With B2K").
"We don't even know yet," he said about the possibility. "That would be a good tour. Much love to them for real. Hopefully it might happen. It might not."