Mariah the Scientist is warming up to the idea of displaying emotion, in real time. Before the fame, Georgia’s R&B songbird found herself on a pre-med path, majoring in Biology at Saint John’s University before deciding to dropout. Admittedly, college is just too damn expensive, but for Mariah, she fell in-love with potential, the idea of what could happen. “To be honest with you, I just started weighing the odds…,” she shares.
After successfully transitioning from her on-campus dorm room to the recording booth, Mariah is now signed (RCA Records) and performing at Rolling Loud, the largest hip-hop festival in the world. In just one year’s time, she managed to accomplish more than the average artist. Her first show (in Atlanta) was completely sold-out, and now she’s on the same bill as names like Megan Thee Stallion, A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, and Lil Uzi Vert.
Mariah’s meteoric rise in music seems surreal. She has that hard-to-define quality that makes someone special, with the looks to match and the tonal influence of a seasoned composer. And, as a 23-year-old woman operating in what’s considered a male-dominated industry, she’s a voice of interest for new ears. Mariah resists the urge to follow trends and moves to the beat of her own heart, producing ballads that are true to life and relatable.
With RY RY WORLD, Mariah’s second album, she has officially arrived. Her futuristic sound flirts with realism but feels like an otherworldly experience. She balances keyed accompaniment and distorted synths with a Georgian drawl that’s rooted in her inception. Beyond this notion of an emotive appeal that tugs at the heartstrings of her core fans, Mariah the Scientist stretches the limits of her natural storytelling ability.
DGB had the opportunity to briefly chat with Mariah post-performance at Rolling Loud Miami 2021. Check out our conversation below, lightly edited for context.
Are you really a scientist?
The answer is yes (laughs). I don’t know why everybody asks that. I really went to school for science, I swear.
If I’m not mistaken, you majored in Biology and then changed subjects?
Nope, I dropped out to do this.
What prompted you to make that decision?
To be honest with you, I just started weighing the odds: college is expensive, medical school is even more expensive, and I just saw the potential. I just went for it, and now I signed a deal, not even a year after quitting school, which is really ironic, but I’ll take it.
As an R&B artist, how does the energy you display in song translate to a live performance?
I really struggle with that. Maybe I just haven’t figured it out yet, but displaying emotion? In a performance, I’m not the best at that yet, but technically this is the second time I’ve performed with a live crowd. Maybe I’ll get a hang of it soon, but I don’t know just yet.
That’s a huge feat, congratulations. Especially considering how you sold-out your first show in Atlanta.
I can’t believe that. The next show I have is in New York on August 13th and we did a bigger capacity, a bigger venue, and that one sold-out too, in 20 mins.
When you think about how fast you’re progressing as an artist, how does that make you feel?
To be honest, I didn’t expect things to go this far, but it has and it seems like it’s going further. I just feel really blessed because I know it’s a lot of people who probably wanted to do something like this from birth and I admire that determination. I don’t know what to expect. I’m just going with the flow.
Are you nervous?
I was today (laughs). I try not to be though.
In terms of a set list, as an R&B artist, how do you decide what songs to run with day-of show? Rolling Loud is notoriously known for mosh pits and high-energy music.
I don’t like the whole genre categorization stuff because I just feel like sometimes it don’t be that. Sometimes it don’t be R&B, sometimes it don’t be soul, sometimes it’s some other shit. Today, when I was making the setlist, we just sorted through what I had, we even did something unreleased, and I just wanted to do what I thought would go good with this crowd. I aimed for that and it seemed like they enjoyed it.
With a 130-artist line-up this year at Rolling Loud, 23 of the performances account for female artists. That’s an estimated 18% of the bill. Why do you think the margin is so small?
I don’t know. Even for what people consider to be my genre, for people who would fall into that category, I feel like Rolling Loud is trying to expand (or at least that’s what it seems like) this year. They made an attempt to. I’m sure they could be more inclusive still, just like any other event in general, for women. But I do think people around the world are aiming to have more variation. I didn’t know the margin was that small, that’s crazy to me. Maybe it’s also because there are so many male artists. I don’t know how they pick this stuff. Maybe they need to hire you to sort who needs to perform on their list.
Random, but if you were stuck in an elevator for three hours and could only listen to one song, what would it be? Why?
“Pyramids,” by Frank Ocean. That song is like 10 minutes long. That’s the best song ever made, composition, sonically, lyricism, the metaphors, I could really go on and on with this man, but that’s the best song in the world.