Politically-conscious rapper and hip-hop artist, Mario Treadway, aka Souleye, has released a dozen albums since his 2002 debut, “Soul Sessions.” That’s an album every one or two years, except for a gap from 2008 to 2013 — which is around the time he met, married, and had a baby with Alanis Morissette. So, that gap is understandable.
According to his website, Souleye started rapping in high school in Sturbridge, Massachussetts, apparently fueled by a bonfire party in 1996, where he and another kid swapped lyrics. That spiritual environment has influenced his music ever since. Souleye abandoned his college basketball scholarship to focus on music and he traveled with the Transcendental Alliance, “a collective of conscious hip hop artists,” per Heavy. When his brother’s suicide brought him back home, he found a sticker that simply read “Music Matters.” It became a mantra that he lives by.
Souleye’s early influences —?Biggie Smalls, Tupac, and Hieroglyphics (per Your Tango) — gave way to a more spiritualistic style inspired by lots of other genres. Hip-hop, while still a big influence, discouraged him, because of its confrontational, sometimes violent lyrics. He wanted to make music that was positive and that mattered. “There’s enough punching of people in the face,” he says on his website. “It’s time we make eye contact.” Now he incorporates electronic music, trip hop, and even bluegrass into his music, while considering mystical influences like meditation, yoga, and Raki. He sure sounds like the perfect match for Morissette!