Mario Talks Friendship with Ty Dolla $ign and ‘On and Off’ Relationships to Mark New Single Release
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Mario Talks Friendship with Ty Dolla $ign and ‘On and Off’ Relationships to Mark New Single Release

Grab your wine of choice and a box of chocolates because if there’s one man who won’t let you down this Valentine’s Day, it’s Mario with his new banger — and that’s worth celebrating.

On Monday, PEOPLE spoke to the R&B singer in light of his latest single “Used to Me” a collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign which all began with his own experience in relationships. “During the time I was writing the song, I was going through a breakup but we weren’t really finished with the relationship,” the “How Do I Breathe” singer, 36, tells PEOPLE of the single.

“We were kind of on and off. And there was this space where it’s like, ‘Wow… how does pleasure turn into pain and real love into shame?’ You’ve got to look at yourself in the midst of trying to figure out how to fix what may have been broken,” he continues. “And then sometimes it boils back down to, ‘You know what, but let’s just have fun tonight.'” The single is out on streaming platforms on Tuesday at 12 a.m. ET just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Working with the “Or Nah” rapper, 40, was easy as he “understood the language” — and one of the few people he trusts to get an opinion from when it comes to his music. “I and Ty respect each other as artists first and as creatives. It’s like we’re a fan of each other,” Mario (born Mario Barrett) says. “Ty’s one of those guys where unless you work with him, you don’t really realize how musically genius he is and his love for music and R&B.”

The feelings are mutual. “Man, working with Mario was a dream come true,” the rapper, born Tyrone William Griffin Jr., tells PEOPLE in a statement. “He’s one of the great R&B artists of our time. It’s an honor to work with him and more importantly call him a friend.”

In the music video, Mario wanted it to “feel like a night out in LA.”

“We shot at Bootsy Bellows, and we wanted to really keep it vibrant and sexy,” he says. “[We were] trying to create this really realistic story of a couple that is on and off, trying to find their vibe again in a world that it’s hard to… stay consistent sometimes in a relationship when you just have a lot going on, but it’s a priority to you at the same time.”

“Used to Me” is Mario’s latest release since his song “Like Her Too” dropped in December. In July, he celebrated the 20th anniversary since he put out his self-titled debut album — and he’s grateful for the life he’s lived thus far. “If I didn’t have music, I don’t know where I would be mental. So I’m happy, and I’m blessed that as a grown man who started as a kid, I have this outlet to be able to express myself and the ideas of love and connection. It’s a blessing,” says Mario, who’s currently working on a memoir that started out as “a letter to my cousin” about “growth,” “life” and “balance.” He concludes, “I love this industry. I love what I do. Yes, it’s hard, but I think the music is the payoff always.”


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