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Rapper unfazed by fame or money wants music to tell real stories

For Mario is is all about the music.

When Fairleads hip-hop head Mario Gonsalves was asked what he wanted his music to bring him, he chose neither fame nor money.

While money and fame are considered signs of success, Gonsalves said he wanted his music to make a difference in the lives of those dealing with personal issues and struggling to cope.

“We aren’t here to talk about cars, money or girls we don’t have. We are here to tell real stories happening on the streets of Benoni,” he said.

Gonsalves, colloquially known as Mario Francisco, found refuge in American rapper Eminem’s vast body of work, which helped him deal with his struggles.

“I wasn’t a popular child in school. Music became a way of controlling and coping with my circumstances, who I am and how I would take my life further,” he said.

The rapper will release his first album in November.

The rapper found resonance in how Eminem, who often raps about his turbulent childhood marked by allegations of abuse and poverty, embraced and spoke about his tough upbringing.

“It wasn’t always easy with my parents. Alcohol became a big problem. Through all that and with my anger and sadness, music was my outlet. I would listen to hip hop to calm myself down,” he said.

Like his idol, the Hoërskool Brandwag alumnus made his name by becoming a battle rapper, often freestyling and engaging in rap battles with friends in the community park.

A non-conformist who disdains the “abuse of artists by mainstream record labels,” Gonsalves started his independent label, MGX Entertainment, two months ago “to bridge the gap between major labels and the independents”.

“It’s about building yourself,” he said. “If you follow what everybody else is doing, you won’t realise your true potential.

“As an independent label, your message is genuine, and there are no roadblocks. Although success might come later, the upside is that you own the masters,” he said.

He will release his first single under MGX later this year. The single features Jamaican rapper Sean Kingston, and more international names will soon be announced.

He owns the independent record label, MGX Entertainment.

MGX Entertainment’s executive producer, Kino Isaac, said the label wanted to bring back “organic hip hop and tell real stories”.

“Benoni is underestimated when it comes to talent. As an independent record label, we’ve got full control of the content and music. We will not be stopped by a music executive telling us our music won’t sell.

“If you take a record to Universal Music, for instance, and say you want to tell a story of what’s happening in your neighbourhood, they say it won’t sell because it’s Benoni. We do not want those roadblocks.

“With MGX, we will tell the real stories of what’s happening in Benoni without any roadblocks. Hopefully, in return, we will change people’s lives and empower them to believe they can do it on their own and, together, we can put Benoni on the map,” said Isaac.

Also Read: Gallery: Music lovers flock to Boksburg for International Marimba and Steelpan Festival

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