The greatest crime committed in the 305 on the week of Premios Juventud was when the two of us pulled up to one of the most popular ice cream shops in Miami only to get juices instead — one of which would end up exploding all over us shortly after. Mariah Angeliq, who goes simply by Mariah, has called this state home for her entire life, and her burgeoning career in urbano likely means she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
With a year-young contract at Universal Music, 19-year-old Mariah is getting a taste of the life she always dreamed of whilst establishing herself in the industry with a welcomed throwback to that classic “Perreito” flow. Between unexpected DMs with Nicky Jam, and working on an album she hopes is released by the end of the year, the rising artist of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent dreams of going down in history on the same page as Ivy Queen. Though the young talent has a lot left to prove, her story shows she isn’t afraid of a challenge. With refreshing candor that can likely be attributed to her nascent nature in the industry, she tells us about how she got to where she is now, making boss bitch anthems, and more.
Now that you’re signed to a label do you feel that there’s an added pressure to perform and succeed?
Definitely. It all depends on the artist at the end of the day. Everything depends on the artist. I know they have a team… but at the end of the day it’s on you. It’s a lot of pressure… with the label, the music, the videos, the interviews, the shows, but you just gotta look at it as ‘I’m here to have fun.’ I love what I do, so…
How does it feel knowing that out of the batch of music you’ve put out over the last six months, your solo work — specifically “Perreito” — has been the best performing?
It tells me that I’m definitely evolving as an artist. This song is one of my best songs right now, or la canción que mas ha funcionado para mi, creo yo. Me esta dando mi posición, como que mi lugar en la música urbana. My other songs have as well, but with this one… the results are way more intense. It’s charting in 14 different countries, it’s gotten me to a million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Did you expect that?
No! I knew it was a hit but I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. It just came out on the 14th [of June], that’s crazy.
Why do you think that is? What do you bring to the table that no other, not just women artist, but artist period brings to the table right now — especially in urbano?
I feel like I bring this swag and this presence. When people see me, when they hear my music, it’s different. I don’t think I’m better than anyone, but I do feel like I bring something new to the table, something fresh.
Who inspired you as you started realizing you had a passion for music?
Honestly Mariah Carey. My mom was obsessed with her. She named me after her, and when I got older.. like around 9, that’s all I would hear and I would learn all her songs. One of my favorites was “My All.” I would try to sing it just like her. I was like ‘Damn, that’s what I wanna do.’ She doesn’t even dance, she performs. It’s her voice that people remember her by, not how she looks. That’s what I wanted – for my voice to be timeless. For people to hear me and be like ‘oh, that’s Mariah.’ You feel me?
First, one name basis only.
Yeah, it’s just Mariah. I knew that as soon as someone heard Mariah they would think of Mariah Carey (WHICH happens all the time) but I figured just leaving it as Mariah gives me an even bigger advantage because I’m not Mariah Carey… I’m Mariah. I’m not putting her under me, it’s just different. I don’t live up to my name because of her, I create my own purpose with my own name and my own life. Just like… no never mind, I’m not gonna be religious.
HA, no it’s fine – go ahead.
En la biblia dice que some people name their kids after people in the bible because they think that name has a specific power or respect but it’s not. You have to live up to your own name, you can’t live up to someone else’s name. Does that make sense?
For sure. Ok so you had a pretty early start with seemingly a lot of passion but no inherited wealth or any sort of boost…
No, definitely, I came from nothing.
A lot of rising artists make it seem like it’s easy, though. Just pass your mixtape or set of lyrics to someone who will give it to their famous friend of a friend. Easy. But, it’s not always like that…
To get to that point, you have to already have gone through a lot.
So tell me a little bit about finding your way to now.
Bueno, it all started when I had a dream… I literally had a dream that I was on stage and I was in front of mad people performing. I was young, I was like 9 years old. That’s when I started realizing that I’m a dreamer. I literally have visions, and they communicate to me through my dreams.One day I had a dream that I was on a stage, and I started realizing my mom is already playing music all the time. She’s playing Mariah Carey, R&B, Sade, Marc Anthony… ella siempre tenía música puesta. Ya la música yo lo llevaba en mi. It just took that vision for me to realize that this is what I have to do. It was more fate than anything.
What were some steps you took that helped propel you forward after that?
When I was 16 years old I ran away from my mother’s house ‘cause I wanted to pursue music, I wanted to be an artist and live that lifestyle and she didn’t understand that so I had to leave. She always supported me one hundred percent, she just didn’t want to let me go. She didn’t want to let me go to the real world… she was scared for me. I understand that. Every mother wants to protect their kids but as a kid wanting to be there so bad, I was like ‘there’s no one that’s gonna stop me, not even my mom.’ I didn’t do it in a bad way, I just knew that if I didn’t do it, no one would. So, I went and had a friend that was helping me. Through him I started meeting a lot of people, and he ended up introducing me to Nely “El Arma Secreta.” I had never done [Spanish-language] music before, and he showed me that I could sing fire in Spanish. We could make fire songs in Spanish. So, me enamore de la música en español. He introduced me to the best writers, the best producers, he’s the reason I now have this deal now with Universal. He taught me a lot, he was like the stepping stone of my career. I really appreciate Nely and who he is and what he’s done for me.
Is it easier now? You have Nely’s support and experience, you have the in with Universal for collabs, and it seems like the odds can be in your favor. But what challenges you now?
Preparing. Preparing yourself for that fame. Cause you can say ‘I’m ready’ but when that moment comes, if you’re not really ready, it could make you or break you. So it’s all about being in the right state of mind.
It feels like being a woman in urbano isn’t all that bad right now. What is it like from your perspective?
From my perspective I’ve never seen it as ‘there’s not enough women, there’s too much men.” I’ve always seen it as ‘I want to do this and I’m gonna do it.’ But I obviously did take it into consideration that the male industry is super male dominated. Todos los productores son hombres. No puedo decir que todos los artistas porque now that I’m in the industry I see a lot of women in the industry. Maybe not as many women are mentioned as the men, but to me it’s not a sex thing. To me it’s just about having that goal in your head. Porque a Ivy Queen… look what they used to say about her. It’s not about being a guy or a girl, it’s about your mentality and where you wanna go. There are girls who think there’s not enough women so they might not be accepted. I’m not a part of that [group]. I’m part of the ‘boss bitch, I know that I’ma make it’ type girl. I already knew when I ran away that nothing was gonna stop me. ‘I’m gonna meet the right person, I’m gonna get a deal and I’m gonna make it.’ And that’s exactly what happened. It’s like the law of attraction.
Your background is Puerto Rican and Cuban. Both countries, like any other, have issues of their own. But Puerto Rico is particularly struggling right now with #RickyRenuncia. How do you feel about artists using, or not using, their platforms to be vocal about political issues?
I think it’s powerful to use your voice as a weapon. That’s one of the reasons I do music. To have a voice. It’s literally saying what you feel. I feel it’s dope, but it’s controversial too… Look at Tupac. He started rapping about los problemas en la sociedad y el gobierno, and look what happened to him.