Artist: Docta Mario
Genre: Hip hop
“Cruising, grooving, slow motion like the car ain’t even moving” sings Docta Mario (aka Mario Miller) in the opening chorus of his new hip hop single “I-25”. If you’ve spent any time on I-25 in the past few years there is a good chance you’ve spent some of it completely stationary. Rather than lament this fact, Docta Mario revels in it. Truly, this track is all about enjoying the moment you are in. And no matter what stretch of I-25 you find yourself on, it is sure to elevate your commute with this instant classic.
Musically, you could also look at this single as a literal roadway connecting old school and modern hip hop. As soon as the beat comes in we’re reminded of the classic era of 90s hip hop. The opening chords sound like something Bad Boy would have released in 1995. The opening chorus shifts to a jazzy feel introducing some horns and a hook that would sound at home on any OutKast record. No surprise there, before making his way to the front range, Docta Mario grew up in Atlanta, having witnessed his fellow ATLiens go from being a local favorite to a worldwide phenomenon.
This feeling of nostalgia flies out the window as soon as Docta Mario starts rapping. We are reminded that those days are behind us and we are now cruising into the future. The good Docta treats us to a triplet feel vocal approach that is popular among the so-called mumble rappers of today. But this southern gentleman doesn’t simply follow the trends, he innovates. He maintains this bouncy intricate rhythm throughout the song while delivering his lyrics as clean as god’s fingers, or some other less-obscure analogy.
Docta Mario pays tribute to his southern routes on the track as well. Although it is titled I-25, he shouts out I-85 in Atlanta. During our chat we joked about how this lyric can be adapted on tour to fit any North-South highway. For those that don’t know, all North-South interstates end in 5. Betcha didn’t expect to learn that in a single review!
“The traffic in Denver can be terrible, but at the same time when you have good company around you, it doesn’t seem like you’re sitting in traffic. It seems like you are creating a moment, like there are memories to be made.” I’ve always found it amazing that people can gripe about traffic, without irony, as though they aren’t traffic themselves.
While this track definitely puts a positive spin on being stuck in traffic, that’s far from the only intent. In a larger sense, it’s about the commuter experience. Going fast on the open road, admiring the cars, enjoying the tunes. It’s about appreciating the little pleasures that make life liveable. Mario remembers seeing OutKast paint vivid pictures of the world before them and sought out to do the same thing for people on the Front Range.
Although Docta Mario calls Cheyenne home and still collaborates with Atlanta artists, Fort Collins is still an important part of his story, especially in the context of this song. In remembering it’s origins you can hear the nostalgic joy in Mario’s voice. The chorus came to him after opening for Afroman at the Aggie Theatre on 4/20 a few years ago. “I remember driving down I-25 from Fort Collins to Cheyenne in an elated state, like a high I had never felt before. And it seemed like every little piece of that drive was just beautiful. I found myself singing low ‘driving down 25’ and realizing how catchy it was ” The hook had literally grabbed him, and he would find himself returning to it again and again until it took the shape of a song.
Docta Mario is musician on a mission, and I can’t wait to hear where his musical journey takes him. He has eluded to a full length project called CARTUNES that we can expect to leak out slowly over the course of the next year. On it, we can expect to hear a wide variety of sounds to mirror Mario’s eclectic tastes. And while we might find some party tunes on it, Docta Mario seems to be focused on a forgotten audience: the individual listener. This music is made for YOU to enjoy while you navigate YOUR world.
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