Was "Let Me Love You" Mario's Peak?


I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I'd discuss "Let Me Love You" a bit more, especially with its recent resurgence on the sing-a-long competition Greatest Hits. So, here's my piece and peace with this track.

Photo Credit: Billboard.com

As stated and reiterated here, I've neither negative feelings nor positive feelings about Mario's music. For a good portion of my life, it kind of just existed. Yeah, I know. He's from Baltimore, I'm from Baltimore. I'm supposed to like everything from Baltimore because Baltimore, right? Well, Baltimore has had its share of drug abuse sadness. Do I have to love that, too? That's not to say Mario's music is like drug abuse, because that's a doubly messed-up thing to say. I mean, Mario's mom had her issues with drug abuse. That's not where I'm going. However, my questioning does say this.

Just because something's from your hometown doesn't mean you've got to fawn over their music. Just because someone gets a cosign from a hometown hero, as was the case with transplant-for-a-hot-second Young Leek's cosigns from Blaqstarr and the late Club Queen K-Swift, that doesn't mean they're destined to blow up.

But, I digress.

Most of Mario's music, for me, kind of just existed.


I only grew my hair out to braid a few times and it was usually done by professionals. I thought that "Just a Friend 2002" was kind of corny, even with its Biz Markie roots (and cameo[s]). It was a dope song, but I always laugh at it and its video. And, later on, I'd make fun of songs such as "How Do I Breathe" and "Somebody Else," mainly because they, while decent tracks, had some "huh" moments in them. However, one song, and it's an overrated song from Mario, keeps me from completely dismissing the man's underrated genius (what? Just because I'm not fawning over him doesn't mean I don't realize he's got some talent and bangers).

"Let Me Love You."


Now, perhaps it's because of the laugh-out-loud funny feels I get from the song. It came out right in the middle of my crush on someone I'll refer to as Ms. Pink Jacket--more on her in, hopefully, a later DJBooth.net piece. Additionally, it came out at a time that I was scrubbing around and dealing with my dealings with several other young women. So... many...fails. I identified with its message, even with its proto-Chris Brown dance sequences.


Or perhaps it's because, as cheesy as it can be ("you're a dime, plus $0.99/and it's a shame you don't even know what you're worth," anyone?), it just hit some chords with me that most of his music has never done/has yet to do. It's a song about unrequited love, wanting to "save" the girl of your dreams from a ne'er-do-well.

Whatever the reason is, I always go back to this track as showcase of Mario's abilities. Sure, it's a Ne-Yo-written track, but it showed Mario's range, Ne-Yo's skills with the pen (mostly;the aforementioned "plus 0.99" line is still a head-scratcher in some ways), and the uptempo ballad feel made it perfect for many a young teen in 2004 to take that track and send it to someone on AIM or Myspace or whatever was popping social media-like in 2004.

This brings me to my next question.

Nostalgia aside, was "Let Me Love You" Mario's peak as an artist (thus far)?

It was a Billboard-charting success story and put Baltimore on the map, again, as a hub for talent. The energy Mario brought to B'more from that track, you could argue that rappers such as Bossman,  and Mullyman also benefited from it, as well. I mean, you had all eyes on Baltimore--and it wasn't just because Omar was coming.

Also, it still gets play twelve years after it dropped. No other Mario track has had that longevity, not by a long shot. Not "Braid My Hair," not "How Could You," not "Break Up" from his later D.N.A. album, not even the track he did with Nicki Minaj a couple years back. Many Mario tracks, for better or worse, they come and they leave a few months, maybe a year later. That's probably because, especially in the DMV, DJs play the hell out of some Mario when it drops. He manages to get some hot features and some great songwriting behind him.

"Let Me Love You" was special. And, I'd argue that, because of how big the track was, Mario has been chasing that success since. He, thankfully, hasn't tried to remake the song for years. Every track that hits the streets and the radio from him, it has that same sort of dramatic force behind it. But, none of them have been able to match or eclipse the legacy he set out for himself in 2004.

What does the future hold for Mario? I'm not sure. He is, after all, only 30. So, for real, his best years could be far ahead of him, musically. However, I'm not sure if he'll ever surpass "Let Me Love You." Yes, even with its mid-2000s obsession with graffiti, oversized clothes, and dancing lifted right out of the You Got Served choreography book.

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