Feature: Jack Foley
BAD Boy Records singer, songwriter and producer, Mario
Winans, has stepped out from behind the producers desk and
into the limelight with the UK release of his highly-successful
single, I Dont Wanna Know.
The track, which features P Diddy, a sample from The Fugees and
(curiously) Enya, has already enjoyed phenomenal success in America,
where it has helped to propel sales of Marios new album,
Hurt No More, to
It was initially leaked to a US radio station earlier this year,
and listeners immediately flooded Djs with requests to hear it.
And, in an interesting flip-side to Eamons recent scored
effort, (Fuck It) I Dont Want You Back, the track
is credited for going to a place that few R&B singers have
ever gone before - the decision to face a womans infidelity
and ignore it.
Not that Winans has to worry about any damage to his image, given
the success he has enjoyed within the industry thus far.
The super-producer has worked with some of the best-known R&B/hip-hop
names in the industry today, including Mary J Blige, Whitney Houston,
R. Kelly, Jennifer Lopez, The Notorious B.I.G. and P. Diddy, to
name but a few.
His story began in his grandmothers kitchen, as he recalls:
"I was constantly banging on the pots and pans with wire
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, and,
during his teens, he also learned to play piano, drums and keyboards.
Winans turning point as a producer, however, 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, Winans produced
an entire gospel album for a local group.
And a subsequent trip to Atlanta resulted in a meeting with producer,
Dallas Austin who was so impressed with the young mans production
skills, that he signed him as an in-house producer.
Work with R. Kelly soon followed and Winans quickly developed
his reputation as a top-notch producer and songwriter.
Ironically, Winans never gave much consideration to becoming
a recording artist but, following a conversation with P Diddy,
who had been a great admirer of his work, Winans signed to Bad
Boy as an artist in his own right.
The culmination of a decades long journey is the Bad Boy
debut, Hurt No More, which is being hailed as soul music that
bridges the gap between the hard-edged flavour of modern day R&B
music and the honest, vulnerable passion in the music of years
Indeed, according to Winans himself, vulnerability is a key theme
of the album and he claims to bring an earnest, sincere approach
to his music that hasnt been heard in years.
"This record is about relationships, pure and simple,"
he explained. "We all have hearts. Sometimes we have to look
deeper into what were saying and doing to the people we
care about. At the bottom of these fights, its usually always
Other tracks include Three Days Ago, an open letter to
someone who is deeply missed, Disbelief, Cant Judge Me
and Pretty Girl Bullsh*t.
"Ive been in a lot of the experiences on this record,"
says Winans. "And I can talk about them. I can sing about
them. As long as Im making people feel, Im doing what
I was put here by God to do."