I sat down with Chicago artist Mari Mix ahead of the anticipated release of his new single: '10:30am.' Initially impressed by his skills as a lyricist, I learned that Mari is highly motivated by connecting to fans through the life messages he writes into his music.
For this most recent single, the message doesn't come too far after the title. 10:30am is the time of birth for Mari Mix, and also the time in the morning when he finished writing the song. This track features Mix in an introspective space with his mother, asking a question a lot of us can relate to: are you proud of me? And if the title wasn't a clear enough indicator of what this track is about, the cover art shows a picture of a young Mari, before the Mix, just after he was born to his mother.
"Would you say your mom is one of your biggest fans"
"I would say that. I feel like my mother is very hypercritical of my music. So she's my biggest fan and my biggest critique." ... "My grandmother would fight her for that title."
Speaking with Mari ahead of this drop was very refreshing due to Mari's honesty. Everything he was saying could be backed up by the music he's already released in his young career, and it made me excited to hear what he's cooking up, this single notwithstanding.
Mari Mix started making music about 2 years ago, electing to start taking himself seriously (initially a hobbyist freestyle rapper) as he began to hear the messages in the songs he was writing, dripping with meaning. He understood that people could get meaningful takeaways from his lyrics that could help them with their own journeys. Through his rap career, he seeks to capture that magic of connecting with listeners over and over again to take it to its furthest possible ends.
Before I split ways with Mari I asked him about something I see him active with on a daily basis, something that is rare for an up-and-coming artist: his level of activity when it comes to public support for other artists he likes, big or small. To Mix, it comes from two places. That piece of encouragement from a fan to an artist can mean a lot in a cold rap game that doesn't pay until you reach a certain threshold of fans. Similar to Push Soul's mission with "artists interviewing artists" Mix expressed to me that he wants to be the change he wants to see in the industry, a change geared towards collaboration and working together.
The other piece that factors into Mari's visual online support of other artists is the real impact that it has. Even from his position of growth, he understands that a cosign, a retweet, a comment, can translate a scroller into a clicker for another artist.
Back to the interview for some last words:
"So what does 10:3a0am mean to you?"
"It's a mix of things." ... "I'm also talking about my life, who I am right now, where I am right now, some of the things that I plan to want to do, some of the things that I already am doing. Some of the things that I'm fighting, some of the things that I'm inspired from. I put a lot of different things in the music so a lot of people can understand... there's a lot of different things to be proud of."
At the risk of sounding elitist, Mari is someone I've come to regard as a 'true artist' or an 'artist's artist.' his level of appreciation for the creative possibilities a blank canvas presents is nothing short of inspiring.
Check out '10:30am' available on all DSPs November 5th, 2021.