Mariah the Scientist Has A Lot To Say On Her New Album, Young Thug, And The Internet

Mariah the Scientist opens up about her new album, her relationship with Young Thug, and many of the ongoing misconceptions about her.

Stephany David

Mariah the Scientist may seem unassuming and sweet as she sits perched on a chair in Complex’s Times Square studio, but you shouldn’t take her sweetness for granted. Having been in the music industry for four years now, the singer-songwriter has had her fair share of moments that tested her. She’s been very open about the criticism she’s received from friends and critics alike when it’s come to her live performances and her romantic relationships, but she’s managed to still keep going. 

“I think that as far as the Internet and the digital world, it requires you to get thicker skin. A lot of people who are in this position probably feel the same,” she tells Complex when asked how she deals with constant commentary from critics and even fans.

Mariah reveals that she often compares herself to a scorpion. Born in late October, the singer confirms that her zodiac sign is Scorpio, but her connection to the tiny creature goes way deeper than astrology. “A scorpion, at first glance, it's more meek… You don't really know what it's capable of,” she explains. “You don't know what you're gonna get… It can be poisonous and venomous; if you were to eat it, it would kill you. So to be eaten alive is really to kill.” 

The parallels she draws between herself and a scorpion are the inspiration behind the title of her forthcoming album, To Be Eaten Alive. The album, which is slated to drop on her birthday, October 27, delves into a spectrum of emotions and experiences, emphasizing Mariah the Scientist’s artistic versatility. “My goal was to make the best possible music,” she tells Complex. “I wasn't looking for it to be too R&B-ish because I don't wanna be stuck in this one category. That's not really how I feel in every single song. I don't feel so rhythm and blues; I feel alternative. I feel different ways.” 

The album also features a handful of collaborators who add different layers to the project, including Kaytranada, Vory, and her current romantic partner, Young Thug. “We complement each other so well… I like to create with him,” she says of their collaboration. 

In our brightly lit studio, Mariah the Scientist tells us all about her new album, talks about her relationship with Young Thug, and debunks many of the ongoing misconceptions about her. Check out the interview, lightly edited for clarity, below. 

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How have you evolved as a woman in the last year or so?
In the last year, I've been adulting at an extreme, dealing with property, relationships, work, family. 

What would you say is one of the most surprising things, or hardest things, about adulting right now?
Ironically, adulting hasn't been that hard. It's been a lot to manage, but it's not that hard. I guess you just have to prioritize things and have work ethic. It's just in categories; there's family, work, relationship. 

How have you grown as an artist in the last year or so?
As an artist, I feel like I have explored new methods of compiling a project, so to speak. I would say the content is a little different. It's not [all about] my world is ending. I feel happier, so it's not so depressing.

What inspired the title of your album?
I'm a Scorpio, so I compare myself to a scorpion. A scorpion, at first glance, it's more meek. It's in the cut, hiding away or something. You don't really know what it's capable of. There are a lot of animals that might have a bright color or something that will be identifiable or a smell that will make you not want to fuck with it. Scorpions don’t really have that, so you don't know what you're gonna get… And then you take another animal such as a lion, right? A lion can eat whatever it wants to eat. It is the king of the jungle. It is top of the food chain. It is great, powerful, big, noble. So the metaphor I came up with was that because it can be poisonous and venomous; if you were to eat it, it would kill you. So to be eaten alive is really to kill.” 

What was your goal going into the album cycle for To Be Eaten Alive?
My goal was to make the best possible music instead of just putting together what I felt like [was] the timeline of what it should be. I wanted to make the best possible project. So I scrapped it. I started back, and I made new things, which I have never really done. Usually when I decide I'm making a project, I already know which songs I'm putting on a project. But this project, it was like I thought I knew, I scrapped it, and then I restarted with some of the old stuff and then I made new stuff too. 

What prompted you to scrap the first draft and go back to the drawing board in a sense?
The first draft, I just put stuff on there because it was in the realm of time that I was making the project. I didn't want it to be like my other projects where I started it in one mindset and I finished in that [mindset]. This album I feel like is definitely more than one state of mind. It's more than one perspective. There's some stuff on there that my heart is broken, but that's not how I feel. Now there's some stuff on there where I'm fully in love. There's some stuff that's like I'm in love, but I'm one foot in and one foot out. There's some stuff like I want to fuck with you, but I can't fuck with you. I think it's a lot of different perspectives. 

"I think creating together is one of the most intimate things you can do, especially when the subject matter is relevant to your situation."

Do you feel like you accomplished your goal of making the best music possible?
I feel like I have definitely accomplished making the best project I could possibly put together at this point.

That seems like it took a lot of thinking to reach that meaning.
I definitely thought it out. I researched a couple of different kinds of scorpions. There's one scorpion that's native to India that is a red scorpion. So I have been wearing red. It doesn't look red, but it is called an Indian red scorpion if I'm not mistaken, and if it stings you, it makes your heart stop. So that was like a catalyst for the aesthetic. And then I just ran with it. 

What was the sound or vibe you were looking to achieve with this album?
I don't wanna say that there was like one sound that inspired the entire project. But there are some songs on there that are really old. The intro is a song that I produced in quarantine. It was just somber and I didn't know what to do. There was a restless energy then. So I ordered some equipment. I guess I thought I was gonna produce some stuff, which I did, but I only produced two songs or two instrumentals. One of them I built on to it and used it as the intro. I felt like it was a different sound. It was just interesting because it just came straight from out of my brain. That's why I kinda like the idea of production, because it could just be anything. It's like you could start with something simple. You can give one simple loop or instrumental to multiple different producers to put drums on, and it's gonna come back in 500 different ways. I really like that aspect of it. I've always been really hands on with everything. That first song took the longest to produce. It's probably years old now. But yeah, some shit is older than that, maybe like four years old on there. And then some stuff is as new as within the last few months, three months. So, there was no real inspiration for the sound. What I will say is I wasn't looking for it to be too R&B-ish because I don't wanna be stuck in this one category. That's not really how I feel in every single song. I don't feel so rhythm and blues; I feel alternative. I feel different ways.

Do you feel like people put you in a box when it comes to your sound?
I think anybody that sings and is Black or they think you might be Black, they put you in this category of R&B music. It's like, why? What really defines R&B? What does that mean? Or what really defines alternative? It's like if Lana Del Rey is singing about heartbreak, why is her album categorized as alternative? And then I put out music, and it's automatically supposed to be R&B. What if it's neither of those? I I told somebody that I wanted to make a new genre and I want to call it A&B, as in alternative and blues. I don't know if it'll happen, but I feel like if I did make that, that's what I would fall into. 

You mention that the album’s subject matter ranges from love to heartbreak to many other emotions. What is it like listening to some of those songs today now that you’ve moved on from the initial feeling?
It's still really great music. When I listen to number four and number eight on my project, they are definitely upsetting. When I wrote it I was upset, but I mean, I love the songs. I lived it. So it's kinda different. I'm always gonna identify with it. Maybe it doesn't resonate like how it resonated when I first made it, but I definitely still identify with it because I experienced those things. And I mean, I still like making that kind of music. It's just that I haven't really experienced too much of that in a minute, but I definitely still identify with those feelings.


Mariah The Scientist is self-producing music now (including a song on her new album 'To Be Eaten Alive') #mariahthescientist #tobeeatenalive

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What are some stories behind the making of the album that would surprise some fans?
I wanted to put this project out a long time ago. So by the time it was crunch time to put it out, I thought it was gonna go faster than it did. It was like, everything had to be touched piece by piece. And granted, I've done projects before. I do touch everything piece by piece, but because I was looking to execute at a different level, it was just way more meticulous. There are some songs that have had 35 edits, maybe 50 edits. I thought I was done recording things months ago, but I was just recording like, two, three weeks ago. I am like that at the final hour though. I do tend to become my biggest critic even on the smallest detail. So it's definitely tedious. 

Do you have a favorite memory from working on this project?
My favorite memory would be producing that first song because I never did that, and that was the first and only one I used on my project. It was just interesting because that's the most proud of something I've been because I made it from start to finish. It was all me. But it was nice working with Kaytranada. He's fire. I got some really cool features. This could be considered kind of cynical, but there were a lot of people I asked for features that didn't work out, but it still came out to be this really grand body of work without them. I wonder if it will make them change their minds in the long run? 

Can you tell us a little bit more about the features on the album?
So I have Vory on this song called “40 Days and 40 Nights.” That song is kind of old, but he really did add to it and I like that. Then there's another song called “77 Degrees” with 21 Savage, which I love 21 Savage’s music. I love Vory’s music too. And then I have Young Thug on my final song. 

You mentioned Thug is also featured on the album. What can you tell us about that single?
It's the only acoustic song on my project, which is interesting because he's a rapper. I really love it. I feel like it's like a love song, and I feel like we complement each other so well. The few songs that we have together, we just sound really good together. It almost seems like it could have been his song or it could have been my song, because we both kind of sound so dominant. It just seems like a very well-balanced creation. I like to create with him. 

Young Thug previously said in an interview that you are his “therapy.” Do you feel like that is an accurate depiction of your relationship together?
I think creating together is one of the most intimate things you can do, especially when the subject matter is relevant to your situation. It's like a time capsule. We can refer back to it. It’s like, that's how I felt at the time. I would like to see what we made going further. 

"I just feel like people don't understand, but it's really not for them to understand. But what I will say is that's not gonna stop me from doing me." 

Why did you decide to release “From a Woman” as one of the first singles?
So, I really like “From a Woman” because it's a different subject matter for me, but it still came out really great. It was just on a beat with no drums at first, and I let a couple of different people play with it. Then, London on da Track did what he does. He was just really passionate about that song. That's probably my favorite [song] right now, because I'm resonating with it the most. But I feel like it was a good way to reintroduce this project. I also feel like you could consider it to be R&B, and that's what the majority of people are looking for. I don't want to shock them with something like the Kaytranada song. I didn’t want to put that one out first. I performed it a couple of times over the summer, but I felt like it might be too foreign to my core fans. So I wanted to give them something that they would fuck with. And then by the time the project comes out, you'll be able to see how it progresses, and then maybe you'll be able to understand it more. 

When was “From a Woman” created?
I wrote it on Nov. 7, 2022. That's not that long ago. That's not even a year ago. And then I guess I recorded it at some point and then boom—it came out to be what it was. 

Was the plan always to drop “From a Woman” in tandem with Young Thug’s “From a Man?”
So he had shot this video and the treatment. The video treatment was almost identical to a video treatment I had, but it was like in two different perspectives. His video treatment was him riding around, and I was waiting at home. And then [my video treatment] was me waiting at home and he's riding around. So when I recognized that it was so similar, I thought it would be fire to tie them in. We had already discussed a couple of times doing something where we made music from one perspective and then the other perspective. It visually fit the aesthetic, and I really like that song of his. I really like that song of mine too. And then, I don't think his was originally called “From a Man,” but he changed it. 

On “From a Woman,” you said that you can’t call him Slime because it just doesn’t fit who he is. Do you have other pet names that you call him instead?
I've never really been able to call him Slime. I just feel like Slime—that's for the boys or something. I call him a lot of things, a lot of inappropriate things for sure. Mainly in public, I just call him Jeff. But on a personal tip, I mean, I call him whatever you call your significant other. 

What is one song from the album that captures the project’s soul or overall essence?
I will probably say number one, which is called “Heaven Is A Place On Earth.” I don't know if it necessarily defines the project, but it's a summary of how I'm feeling at all times these days. I feel like it just depicts my growth. It depicts a lot of the past, present, future kind of thing for me. 

What other music videos are you planning to release?
I want to do one with Kaytranada, but he's a busy guy. So I have to wait until he can shoot it, because I want him to be in it. And then honestly, I want to see what everybody likes and gravitates to, and then I’ll do a visual for that. Previously, I've just only done visuals for what I wanted to do and didn't really give my supporters the floor on deciding. I think it could be cool to let them sway me on which song they feel needs visuals. 

You've been pretty open about the judgment you've received online from fans and critics. What motivates you to keep opening up in your music and also speaking publicly on the things that you've experienced?
I can't really act on how somebody else feels or what they want me to do. Especially when it comes to my art, I really don't let people fuck with that. I don't mind cussing you out and saying, “This is my shit. Not yours. Mind your motherfucking business.’” I have no problem saying that. When it comes to the Internet, it's a big difference between criticism and getting bullied. I just deleted Twitter a couple of months ago because it can be too much. It can be overly negative. So I just remove myself because it's a difference between saying something like, “Maybe she should go get some vocal lessons. It could probably improve her stage performance,” versus saying, “Oh my fucking God. I hate the way she speaks. I hate her voice. If I have to hear it again, I'm going to fucking kill myself.” I feel like it's hard to really separate that on the Internet. It's like one big flowing ocean of commentary. 

"There's a lot of misconceptions... Some stuff is really repulsive on the Internet."

How have you and Young Thug’s relationship evolved in light of online comments and criticism?
At a certain point, it bothered me, because it was just like, I really fuck with him. And before, when I was younger, I have advertised my relationship, but it's not like I'm necessarily advertising it. It's just like, that's my man and sometimes I want to speak on it. I would not be being myself if I were trying to hide that. I'm a lovey dovey person. It just so happened my previous relationship wasn't really something I wanted to speak about. It wasn't really something I wanted to brag about. But now, it's like I have something where I’m very proud to have him. We have a really good balance. We just do, and I just feel like people don't understand, but it's really not for them to understand. But what I will say is that's not gonna stop me from doing me. He's definitely done this for longer so he could be like, “Stay off of that,” and I'll respect it. That's the only thing that I really give a fuck about. So it's like if he feel like I don't need to be doing that, then fuck it, I’m not going to do it. I’ve grown past a lot of that criticism, but in the beginning, I was like, “Oh my God!” 

What have you learned about yourself as you’ve become famous?
My problem is that I think I'm still an average, regular citizen. My sister tries to tell me repeatedly that it's not how this works, and I need to act accordingly, or I need to assimilate to a particular set of rules. I don't feel like it should be like that. I still do very regular things. I consider myself a local. I go to the grocery store. I go to the mall by myself. I'm probably never gonna stop doing that. Maybe if it gets really crazy, but I like regular things. I think that as far as the Internet and the digital world, it requires you to get thicker skin. A lot of people who are in this position probably feel the same. There's a lot of people in the world with a lot of opinions, but they live lives that no one really knows about. In a position like this, every single thing, you people can see it and there are so many opinions. So I feel like it forces you to stand on it. Everyone's using the “stand on it” term phrase, but it's like you have to stand on how you feel. And sometimes, people will be offended by that, but it's like you're entitled to your opinion, so you're standing on that. So I might as well stand on mine regardless of if there's opposition. We don't think the same for a reason. If we did, we would all be doing the exact same thing, and we already had that problem enough, where everybody's trying to do the exact same thing. So it's like I might as well just do me. Crazy part is, as much as there’s people like, “Fuck that girl. I don't like that shit.” It's so many other people that are trying to be exactly like me. So I might as well just be my best self because they're looking. 


Mariah The Scientist reveals features on her new album tobeeatenalive, including Young Thug, 21 Savage, and Vory. Our interview with #mariahthescientist is on Complex

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There have been viral tweets about there being clones of you. Have you seen any of those comments online?
Yes, I have seen those remarks. When I say they wanna be just like me, it's maybe not necessarily literally, but it ranges. They'll put their name and then “The Scientist.” It's like, that's cute. And then it's like there actually are girls in the world that look exactly like me. I don't know how that has occurred so much, but it has. I don't mind it. I like it. I like linking up with them and seeing them face to face. It’s cool. There's this one girl that looks just like me, and I just met her the other day. I was FaceTiming people with her on the front camera, and they couldn't tell until she started talking. We don't sound the same, but we look just alike. 

What are the biggest misconceptions about you?
There's a lot of misconceptions. One misconception is that I'm not Black. I am Black. I'm so sorry that people cannot grasp the fact that I am fair skinned. I have a fair-skinned parent, but she's also a Black woman. It's like, what can I do about that? I can't change that. There are misconceptions that in the beginning of my career, Tory Lanez wrote all my music. Never happened. There are misconceptions that because of my relationship, my music is doing a particular set of numbers or set of things, which is also inaccurate. I had songs go platinum before him. There are misconceptions that in my previous relationship, I dropped out of school and was suicidal over a nigga. Never happened.

 "I would like people to take it as you would when you go into an art museum and you see art on the wall. If you don't like a picture, you just move on."

How is your blood not boiling when you think about some of those misconceptions?
It was! That's why I got off Twitter, because some stuff is really repulsive on the Internet. Like, why the fuck would you say that? And my inclination is let me respond to that, but it's like, what can I do? Respond to 100,000 comments a day? It's just impossible to do that. Sometimes it's really rude. It's like they comment on things that I can't change. You don't like the way I sound—I can't change that. It's the way I fucking sound. Now, if I was to go get a surgery that would open up my air passages so I didn't sound so nasally for you, then everybody would say, “Oh my God, she got a fucking nose job. Look at her, she's fucking submitting to the shit.” That's why I say you just got to stand on what you wanna do because everybody has their opinion on what you should be doing. 

What’s the biggest thing you want people to take away from this album?
That I am truly an artist. This is a body of work. I don't want you to compare it to anything. I just want you to listen to it. I just wish that for people with so many opinions, they would actually listen to my music. Listen to what I'm saying. Listen to the production. Just perceive it as art. It is my expression. It’s like I always say—you can't be mad about how somebody feels. You can't tell them how to feel.  So if you fuck with it, great. Add it to your playlist, and let's do it repeatedly. If you don't, move on. It's 100,000 songs that come out a day. Listen to that shit. That doesn't offend me. I would like people to take it as you would when you go into an art museum and you see art on the wall. If you don't like a picture, you just move on. Look at the next thing. If you do like it, maybe you try to get a print of it, or you try to buy it and then it appreciates because it's art and it was priceless. That's the point of art. 

Is there anything else you are working on that we should know about?
I feel like when people make music and they get to a certain point, ideally, they start doing typical things like a clothing line or cosmetics. For some people, that is really their niche. It works for them really well because that's what they are passionate about. What I'm passionate about is science. I'm passionate about homemaking. I'm passionate about domestic life and the nature around that. So I wanna do this show. We have been talking to a couple of people about it. But I want to do this show that's kind of like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but it's not necessarily geared for children. It's more like a young-adult show. It's a little more provocative. I want to talk about things that are pertinent to this generation and look at them from a scientific perspective. So I'm working on that. And I want people to see more of me but maybe in a curated way. I want them to know more about me, but not too much. I just want people to know I'm a normal person and I'm doing normal things. 

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