Mario Vasquez the
Nuyorican Idol Merges Styles
8/23/06 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
Bronx-born Mario Vazquez
has already had the kind of exposure most new, and for
that matter, established artists dream of. The talented
young Nuyorican has literally been seen and heard by over
30 million people nationwide. As one of the Top 12
finalists in the 2005 season of the television’s
ever-popular “American Idol,”
Mario scored millions of
votes week after week before choosing to leave the show.
The day after the show’s season ended last year, Mario
found himself auditioning in person for Clive Davis and
his A&R staff.
Davis took less than twenty-four hours to sign Vazquez to
Arista Records, making him the first young male Latin artist
on the label’s prestigious roster. Mario spoke with
LatinRapper.com about his new album with its smash hit
"Gallery" with rapper Baby Bash in this exclusive interview.
LatinRapper.com: What can you tell us about your new album?
People know me more by the whole drama, non-drama with me
leaving American Idol. One of the reasons I left Idol was
because I felt restricted by the sound I wanted to put out as
an artist. On Arista Records, Clive Davis, they were the most
lenient with me. Basically they said do what you do, I just
felt so much freedom working on this album. The plan I had for
this record was to get all the sounds that I've been
influenced for as long as I know. Its a bit of R&B, Hip Hop,
Reggaeton, Pop, got the love ballads on there. A bit of
everything for everybody, we also do a bit of Spanish on
there. We have the Spanish version of Gallery and a Spanish
rendition for For the One. I'm just really happy with this
record, I've accomplished to get everything that I listen to
such as Hip Hop, R&B, reggaeton, pop, we were able to weave it
all in. I think its really hard to do.
Have you considered doing an all-Spanish R&B album?
Of course, there's always a possibility of that. I definitely
come from the culture, the Nuyorican culture, as I describe
it. Its definitely a bit of English and Spanish, not the
proper Spanish, more slang. In time I definitely see singing
in Spanish, I definitely see it for the next record as well, a
lot more. As far as doing an album all in Spanish, its not the
plan yet, but we'll see how that goes.
Who are some of the guest features?
Akon rocking his thing, Daddy Yankee, just working with some
really great amazing producers such as Scott Storch, people
like Swizz Beatz. This is what I always wanted, an eclectic
mix of everything, it just worked out like that. I'm glad they
were able to match me up with those people, it worked out
great, its power packed.
You had a big collabo with Baby Bash, how did you connect
That came through my A&R through the company. They had signed
him as well, they thought it would be a great idea, it worked
out great. The single I have out now is definitely more of a
pop ballad, but Baby Bash adds his own rhythm. Getting Baby
Bash on it, the whole swagger. It definitely complements the
record. Baby Bash himself, off the hook, its refreshing to see
Latino rappers doing their thing and doing it big.
You mentioned the producers, overall the sound of album is
Know what, I definitely think its a mix, brother. Its got its
core of rhythm, its much more rhythmic than any Idol album out
there, grittier and edgier, that's what I wanted. As far as
calling it a Hip Hop album or R&B album, I don't want to label
it, its a good mix of everything. I don't want to label it,
know what I'm saying. Even though sometimes we need labels
just to get people to understand, but if anything its an
Are you doing any promotional touring?
I am, actually, right now I'm involved in a nationwide
promotional tour for the single "Gallery", I'm going to do
that for two months or so until the next record, the second
single. "Cohiba", that's the Scott Storch track featuring
Daddy Yankee, which is hot. It definitely shows another side
of me being a little more edgier, a bit of innuendo as well.
This is something I'd be able to do now, I would never have
had the chance to do with Idol.
When does the album drop?
The release is September 12 on Arista Records, that's the
deal. I'm also involved in a Teen People Magazine tour, its
called the Rock and Shop tour. Every weekend we perform in a
different city around the country, we hit the major malls in
those areas and do our thing. Its actually lined up with cats
like Accent, a rapper, Cherish on board. I keep busy, doing my
thing, I'm just happy, its really doing well. Each show we do
it keeps getting bigger and bigger, people are really digging
I'm sure you get asked this all the time, but there was
confusion over why you chose to no longer participate in the
show, can you speak on that?
One of the reasons why I felt it was time for me to go, I
wanted more freedom, I felt restricted of doing the music I
wanted. I felt they had a different direction. Even if I did
win or didn't win I felt like they were interested in picking
me up as an artist. From what I saw, with other idols, I felt
I was gonna be restricted. At age 28 I don't want to be
restricted in doing what I love to do. I've been doing this
since I was 13, I feel like I've evolved to the sound I want
to put out there, I don't want anyone else telling me how to
What do you predict would have happened if you had stuck in
Its great that people say I could have won, that means a lot
to me, I feel like they really believe in what I'm doing. But
I have conspiracy thoughts on that, every winner has been from
the South, brother (laughs). Every winner has been from the
South, so I'm thinking the Southerners really vote. I just
felt progressing in the competition, you befriend all the
contestants, all your competition, you realize that everyone
is different. Everyone has their rock thing, country thing,
pop thing. I'd rather not be numbered, we all strive to do
something different. We're no better than each other, we had
our own vibe. Id rather be known as the guy who got away
So had being on the show benefited you?
Of course. American Idol's a phenomenal thing now. I
definitely know that being on their stage, being seen by 30
million people is a phenomenal thing. I know so many talented
artists in New York city alone that have never had an
opportunity to be seen by a phenomenal number. I'll be the
first to say it, Idol put me on the map. I would like to think
that sooner or later I would have gotten signed. American
Idol's great, I'm grateful for the platform they gave me to
showcase my talent. But another thing is I want to control
So you consider yourself Nuyorican, repping for Puerto
Ricans on the East Coast?
I feel like I'm representing a Nuyorican vibe Not necessarily
Boricua... Me being Latino, I'm representing Latinos. For
myself, I just wanna get clear that I'm a musician, no matter
what I am. Latino, Chino, I'm a musician first. That's my
love, I want to make beautiful music for everyone. I want to
represent my culture right, but I just want to represent
myself as an artist. I want to evolve, that was really
important to me, longevity. My opinion of other idols and how
the show works every season. People get caught up, its like a
factory, now that I see it. It's a catch 22, you gotta impress
the people because if you don't, it will eat you up and spit
you out. This industry's real hard, you gotta make sure you
What else is going on right now?
Once the album drops, we're going to be on a major tour. Right
now we're trying to book an opening act spot, I'm hoping maybe
Christina Aguilera when she decides to do a tour. That's
someone I like and am interested in working with in the
future. As well as Alicia Keys, hoping maybe that will come
back out since she's my labelmate. We're gonna do the whole
promotion bit. I feel like I was born to sing, the most
comfortable I feel is on stage, if they want me they can have
Are you doing anything other than just the music right now?
Right now the focus is on the album, but don't be surprised if
you see me in some TV or movies, I've always had an itch for
it, an interest in that. You never know, do some TV, maybe
some hosting work for MTV (laughs). I love the arts in
general, singing dancing acting. Whatever it is, I enjoy it, I
appreciate it for what it is.
Any last thoughts for the fans?
Log on to myspace.com/mariovasquez. Talk about American Idol,
myspace is a phenomenal thing, its crazy. I want to thank the
fans, pre-idol, post idol, all the new fans. I hope they dig
the album because I love it, I feel really proud of it, I feel
like I'm getting away from the backlash that Idol had. I'm
proud of the Gallery single, that it worked out. It was a
risky thing by me leaving, I thank God for blessing me, that I
got my right direction.
Mario Vasquez on Myspace: