Atlanta’s own Mariah the Scientist is the phenomenally gifted R&B singer who, after songs made for her then-boyfriend became hits, left St. John’s University to realize her calling as a singer-songwriter. From 2017 on, she crafted and built her cred up and by the time her solo album, Master, hit the airwaves — she was signed to RCA Records and never looked back.
“Beetlejuice,” a fan favorite song that originally lived in that group of songs she recorded for her ex-bae, became a smash that signaled her arrival as not only a rising star but one with immense love for her hometown. And now, with us being in 2022, and fresh from her sophomore LP, Ry Ry World, we’re now entering into The Intermission — a moment best described as a tipping point for the former anesthesiologist now a genre-bending superstar.
Released last week as part of her new EP, Buckles Laboratories Presents: The Intermission, is a four-song project that continues Mariah’s scientific method for mixing relatable tales of romance with otherworldly themes.
From “Spread Thin,” where she offers a measured tell-off to an unreliable lover, to “Church,” a series of passionate verses about the religious experience of falling in love —Mariah uses honesty to keep listeners engaged and in this interview with BET.com she delves into her artistic growth, her new EP, and who are her dream collaborations she has on her periodical chart.
BET.com: Here they are and enjoy! 2019’s Master really put you under the spotlight as “RIP” and “Beetlejuice” placed you on everyone’s radar. How has your artistry grown since then as we inch closer to The Intermission?
Mariah the Scientist: Master was some of the first songs that I ever wrote. It was only a mere hobby in the beginning. The Intermission, by definition, signifies two things — that we are currently awaiting one of my greatest projects to date, but also that during this “intermission,” I am dedicated to giving my listeners some insight into what I’ve been feeling over the years. During my breaks between projects, I mixed in some old songs with the new.
BET.com: What are your thoughts on there being a “female rap starter kit” in hip hop? How do you see yourself and your fellow 2019 classmates (ex. Summer Walker, Lucky Daye, Ari Lennox) continuing to break norms through artistry?
Mariah the Scientist: I don’t think there’s a “female rap starter kit.” I don’t identify as a rapper either, so I wouldn’t know about that to begin with. But when it comes to making music in general — and making a career out of it at that — I know there is no sure way or rule book to make it happen.
The only constant that seems to remain no matter what is to be yourself. I think the artists currently setting the tone and blazing new trails are the ones who are unapologetically themselves, regardless of the politics. Any basic product can be manufactured and produced at the highest turnover rates. They don’t last long and can be easily replaced, but limited novelties are few and far between, and last forever.
BET.com: What would you say, if any, is a story throughline between Master, Ry Ry World, and The Intermission? If there is none, what have you learned about chemistry that plays out in The Intermission?
Mariah the Scientist: During the Master era, I was in a dimly lit box and started to theorize what it could be like to emerge. Ry Ry World allowed me to make those thoughts tangible, and to move into a new space that was my own. Upon being in this new space, I began to reflect on and analyze some older emotions in comparison to some new ones. The Intermission defined this period in which I got to pause and evaluate the person that I’m becoming. I believe the next era will be all about sacrifice and what is required of me to move forward in life. The only theme I see is evolution and simply becoming wiser.
BET.com: You’re the most recent St. John’s University alum to have entered the music industry. How did your time there inspire your creative process? Have you ever shared any memorable St. John’s stories with the likes of Nelson George or J. Cole about being enrolled there?
Mariah the Scientist: [Laughs] I was really isolated in college and had a lot of time to think and to create. I have yet to make [J. Cole’s] acquaintance.
BET.COM: Who was behind the boards on such songs as “Church” and “Spread Thin,” and what was it like to work on The Intermission? What do you hope listeners take away after listening to this project?
Mariah the Scientist: Behind the boards, as in production? I found both beats for “Church” and “Spread Thin” on YouTube. There was a lot of online communication [between the producers and myself,] obviously, but we’ve forged great working relationships since, as I have worked with both producers on more than one occasion. I look forward to making more music with each of them.
BET.com: Pakistan-raised singer/songwriter and first-time Grammy nominee Arooj Aftab recently shared that she listens to your music. Has there been anyone else in the music game that’s surprised you by being a fan of your music?
Mariah the Scientist: Yes, and it is beautiful and shocking to know my music is making broad waves that continue to grow [outside of America]. But I think the biggest form of flattery will always be the willingness of artists whose music I admire to collaborate with me.
BET.com: Over a short period of time you’ve worked with talent like Mansa, Lil Baby, and Young Thug? What would it take to get you and Young Nudy on a record? Are there any other dream features you’d love to have for your next project?
Mariah the Scientist: I love Young Nudy’s music, specifically the song “Zone 6.” It can turn me up before any show. I am also a big fan of most other Atlanta-native musicians — Gunna, 21 Savage, Summer Walker, [Latto]. Of course, there’s Baby and Slime [Young Thug]. My dream collaboration has always been and always will be with OutKast. There is something in the content, their southern accents, and that playa s**t that just resonates with me — coming from Campbellton Road to Candler — and knowing how they inspired the rest of the world.
BET.com: Lastly, could you offer fans and longtime listeners a sneak peek at what’s to come after The Intermission finishes its run?
Mariah the Scientist: My next project will likely be my best project to date and the most meaningful to me. The songs I’ve prepared for it reflect my most life-changing moments to date.
You can listen to or cop her latest, The Intermission, by clicking here. Be sure to watch the videos above.
Kevin L. Clark is a screenwriter and entertainment director for BET Digital, who covers the intersection of music, film, pop culture, and social justice. Follow him on @KevitoClark.