Mario Dones breaks into summer 2013 with Nice Rec to release the anticipated 10 Summers mixtape. The Pittsburg MC knows hip hop; he isn’t just a rapper but maybe even a historian, and he understands where the genre is heading and especially where it was. Hip hop is currently in good hands, but it’s at a crossroads. The MCs of the golden era (1993-2003) aren’t necessarily on their way out, but they are pleading with the MCs of the future to stay away from the auto tune, add quality content, and to stop copping out on dumb hooks just to get a record finished. Mario can hear this as well, and in 10 Summers you can feel it.
The concept of the album is Mario enlisted DJ Nice Rec to mix the album directly onto cassette, giving the sound a classic raw quality, and the beats and the sound of the mixtape reflect that. There is no super heavy bass but laid back beats that make you want to listen, similar to the sound of Illmatic. Lyrically and metaphorically he reminds me of Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli). He says a lot and makes it meaningful in a short amount of time, asking subliminal questions about “True Lies” but not shying away from the core concepts of hip hop on “My Own World.” The way he attacks the music is relentless and almost angry, like Saigon or a 90s Ice Cube.
The range of variety on this mixtape is unmatched in today’s options, and clearly Mario did not release this to please anyone but himself and REAL hip hop fans. One line in the entire album sums it up for me: “If this was ‘96, I’d prolly shut down the Apollo,” referring to the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY. Keep an eye on this Pittsburgh native. Wiz and Mac are always looking to bring talent from their home town; he could be next.