“Marioooo!” Supah Mario is here to increase the respect bestowed upon producers. Hailing from South Carolina but now based in Atlanta, the “Blue Tint” producer has come a long way from playing drums in church. Admitting rock was actually his first love, real name DeMario Priester draws influences from all genres, creating a soundscape for hip-hop and trap to blend and thrive.
While most may assume his first Drake placement (“Ice Melts” on More Life) would be the one to solidify his career, it was actually Thugger’s rise to superstardom that would change Supah Mario’s life forever. Most recently, he’s made the conscious decision to be more visible as Supah Mario the producer, showing his face more versus just hearing a fire producer tag.
Supah Mario says his family and his daughter are the reason he even makes beats in the first place, which is why he’s motivated to only go harder after getting his dream collab with Drizzy.
Where else have you heard his beats? “Thieves in the Night” and “Wyclef Jean” by Thugger, “Motorcycle Patches” by Huncho Jack (Quavo & Travis Scott), “Mixed Messages” by Big K.R.I.T. — and, of course, a Grammy nomination for “Blue Tint” on Drake’s Scorpion.
LA. WEEKLY: For those who don’t know, who is Supah Mario?
SUPAH MARIO: Supah Mario is a producer. Supah Mario is a father. Supah Mario is a brother, uncle, son.
Just one. I have a daughter, she’s 5. That’s my world. That is literally the epitome of why I do everything that I do.
Bring us back to life before these placements.
I was taking care of my grandmother for a while in a very small town called Blythewood, South Carolina. It’s just nothing out there. Other than that, I was just very homely, staying around with my family. I was a janitor for a while. I worked at a mental hospital, and pretty much just raising my kid. Pretty humble beginnings.
How has being from South Carolina played into your life?
Being from South Carolina, it motivated me because I come from a place where there’s not much entertainment. There’s not many opportunities, so it put me in a place where I had to grind harder than the average person. It put me in a situation that motivated me to go harder.
How important is it to come to L.A. as an up-and-coming artist?
It’s very important because the music industry is always shifting. Coming to L.A. means more opportunities, even more opportunities than Atlanta nowadays. At one point it was Atlanta, but now it just seems that L.A. is where anything involving music and acting — anything entertainment — you’ve gotta be here. I live in Atlanta. I love Atlanta.
What was the inspiration behind your name?
Well, my middle name is DeMario and I was given that name in high school. A lot of people used to call me Super Mario because my mom calls me Mario. My family calls me Mario. But at school and in the neighborhood, everybody used to call me Supah Mario, so I just adopted it.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I still feel like I’m the new guy, but I do it all. I’m not just a hip-hop or R&B producer, I’m a reggae producer. I’m country, I’m rap, I’m rock. I come from a rock background. I used to play drums and want to be in a rock band. All of those things kind of made me who I am today.
At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
When Young Thug dropped “2 Cups Stuffed,” his first radio hit. I produced that and I realized I was about to get some money off of it. I’ve always known that I didn’t want to have a regular job. I always knew that I wanted music to be my job, I just didn’t know that I was going to be a producer. I realized it once Young Thug emerged.
Did you want to rap ever?
Yeah, I did.
How was your rap career?
Umm … terrible. It did not last long. I didn’t fit in. I started rapping around the Mac Miller era, when he was popping. That was my thing, that was my style of music. I wanted to create that type of stuff, I just wasn’t good at it. I could rap and write, I just didn’t like my voice.
Did you teach yourself how to produce?
Yup, I self-taught every instrument. I learned drums and keys all on my own.
How has “Ice Melts” by Drake changed your life?
Aw man, it brought me more money. It brought me more fans. It just brought me recognition and more attention to the brand. It helped me develop some better relationships with artists that I didn’t know prior to it.
What’s the brand?
Just myself. Me being the brand, my name and who I am.
What’s your relationship with Drake like now?
We cool. I’m just waiting to get that call for the next one. I just wait around until he’s like, “Hey bruh, I need a new pack.” I’m still building my relationship with him.
I actually had the pleasure of interviewing Symbolyc One recently. You guys co-produced “Ice Melts.” Talk about working alongside another producer versus your own beat.
S1 is one of the big homies. He’s like a big brother, somebody I always looked up to. Absolutely. He’s been in the game for a minute. Even being able to say that I worked with him is just an honor. He’s the big homie, all respects. Being able to work with him alone was great but being able to collaborate and play a big part in the song was even better.
It was a lot of camaraderie. He respects what I do, I respected what he did. That was the first song I’ve ever worked with where everything was just cohesive, no issues. Even down to how much we were going to get paid, we were just able to agree like that. [snaps] You notice in some cases, you have people that are more greedy than others — that just wasn’t the case here. We just were happy to be on the same record together and have a Drake placement, period.
What was your initial reaction when you heard Future on “Blue Tints?
I’ma be honest, I wasn’t surprised because there was a rumor going around. That kind of ruined it, I’m sorry. It was going around that he might be on it anyway, so when I heard it, I was like, “OK cool.” I was content.
That beat was actually meant for Big K.R.I.T.! Me and K.R.I.T. just dropped something. It just came out. He’s doing a three-part series. The first one was Thrice X. I co-produced “Look What I Got.”
Does he ever joke about that song becoming Drake’s?
No, he doesn’t give a shit. Big K.R.I.T. is so in his own world, he has no idea. He probably has no idea I even said that in the interview. He don’t care about shit except his music and what he’s got going on. I love that about him, too.
What does it mean to get a Grammy nomination?
For me, it just doesn’t mean much. Until it’s a single, and it’s my single with an artist — whether it be Young Thug or Drake, I don’t care. I’m just kind of meh about it, but I mean it’s cool.
Are you producers finally getting enough credit?
Not yet, but we’re getting there.
What would you like to see?
I would like to see producers’ names and writers credited as features on the song titles. I would definitely like to see these things featured more visibly.
What do you want fans to get from your story?
Just inspiration, man, I think that I’ve been doing a good job of inspiring the youth. I just want people to realize that no matter where you come from and no matter what your circumstances are, anything is possible. ’Cause Drake came out of nowhere. I don’t know how the fuck — that was a blessing. It had to be. There’s no other explanation for how things came about.
What is your take on the music industry?
The music industry is the devil. It’s trash. It’s super trash. It’s the music industry versus music. Because the music industry is a business and business always thinks money first. Musicians always think art first. I just feel like the music business is destroying the natural process of creating art, and that’s not good. It’s like when you cutting off trees out of the forest, it’s the same concept.
I’m on your side, but at the same time, there are hits I realize came together because of the label, and they’re fire ass songs.
I guess. Some of the best hits I’ve ever heard have been naturally created. Not this fake promotion, not this force-feeding people music, and then you telling them what’s hot. That’s how I feel nowadays. Most of the music that we deem to be No. 1 is because somebody else already told us that it was worth being No. 1. People are not deciding within themselves whether they like the music or not — that’s why I think it’s trash.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
One of my biggest goals is to start my own label. Sign some artists, sign some producers. The most important goal is to change the dynamic of the music industry. I really want to change how this thing works. I’m not going to tell you how I plan to do that, because I don’t fully know yet. But it’s coming.
What did you do with your first advance/check?
I bought a car first, because I never had owned a car. I bought a truck, it was like a little jeep. Then I moved out of the ’hood. We were staying in a really bad neighborhood, so I tried to get us a new place up the street from where I was living at. We were staying on Broad River, which was not a good area at the time. I was still in South Carolina for a while, so most of my money went to paying bills and building good credit.
Most memorable session to date?
This weekend with Swae Lee. [grins] That is forever … just lit energy. I was finally able to show who I am and show my skills. It was probably the first artist who has allowed me to really display my talent and really fuck with it. He gave me my energy back to me.
I saw your personal IG post recently. How important is social media for your career?
Social media is very important in me being able to reach people and put my thoughts out there, but social media is also a hindrance. Because it can take away from the true nature of what I do, which is actually creating music. I don’t want people to get it confused. I don’t want people to be more focused on an image than my music, but I do think it’s good for branding. It’s just one of those things that you have to have a balance with.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d probably be trying to be a therapist.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
This week! I’m in McDonald’s, I’m about to use the bathroom on my way to Rolling Loud. He was like, “You Supah Mario?” I’m like, “Yeah.” He was like, “Bro, I got to get a picture with you!” It’s the first time anyone has ever actually recognized me, because nobody knows what I look like. They only know my name as a producer.
That was the first time?!
Yup. [laughs] I told you, I’m still kinda new. He just asked me for a picture. It was all love. Good vibes.
How was Rolling Loud?
It was fun, it was very tiring. I didn’t realize how hectic everything is. I was going to enjoy, network, meet some people, etc. I met Slump God. He knew who I was, I was surprised.
Can you talk about working with him (Uzi)?
That’s the homie. He just FaceTimes me whenever he needs something. He’s bipolar as shit, though.
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And you gotta pick up.
Yeah. I’ll be asleep at 9 o’clock in the morning and if I miss his phone call, I probably missed him for the rest of the day. I won’t hear from him again. I gotta make sure I’m up. Everybody I work with calls me at weird hours. Like I’m asleep, I have a kid I have to get up to go to school. Nobody is working when I’m working. I work in the middle of the day, at 12 o’clock in the afternoon. Here, it’s like 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning, so I got to be up at 5 o’clock in the morning just to catch them when they’re working. It’s weird, that’s why I need to move out here. One day, right?
What can we expect next?
I don’t want to jinx it. Hopefully, fingers crossed, Eternal Atake, Lil Uzi Vert’s new album. Hopefully that’s next.