STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Mizzo
Marc “Mizzo” Johnson realized he was falling in love with music around 1991. Early hip-hop artists like Big Daddy Kane made him say, “Wow, I want to do this.” He started off as a b-boy dancer, but by then, the movement was slowing down. In college, he became an emcee in a group called Fortune. The quartet went on the road, opening up for big-name artists like Jagged Edge. Mizzo still gets butterflies when he thinks about the energy from a crowd of 2000 when they opened up for Ja Rule at the Hartford Summer Jam. Fortune’s producer and manager, Michael McArthur, went on to work with Musiq Soulchild [Mizzo is in Musiq’s first video for “Just Friends (Sunny)”]. McArthur did a great job with both acts, and now works for Kevin Lyles/Def Jam. Despite their success, the group broke up around the turn of the millennium. It’s tough to keep a group together in the entertainment world — especially when it features four young, alpha males with big personalities and competing egos. Still, Mizzo counts the experience as a blessing.
After splitting with Fortune, Mizzo got into production. Long interested in making music, he used to sit with the group’s producer — learning the equipment and learning about the engineering side. He would also sit in the studio with Dru Hill, watching Nokio make his magic. Overall, his artistic journey has prepared him for the work he does now — managing and developing artists. It’s hard to do everything for an artist, though. That’s why he was elated to meet DJ A and begin collaborating with DCTOP20. Right now, he’s managing Yung Rock0, a well-known engineer and producer for the Delaware-based group FlowCity. FlowCity were students at a school Mizzo used to teach at, and he taught them all about the entertainment industry.
Mizzo loves helping people – that’s where blessings come from. That’s probably why he’s drawn to teaching. A science-nerd who watches National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, the Coppin State alum has a degree in Chemistry and teaches biology and physical science. He also bartends on the side. His strong work ethic is grounded in providing for his two children and being able to invest in his artists. After all, money makes things move. Since he is putting time, energy, and money into his artists, he has to be a fan of their music. He has to believe in them as artists and they have to vibe. If not, he’d be a salesman rather than a manager – and even a good salesman believes in his product.
One of Mizzo’s talents is being able to recognize when a song is going to be a hit – even if he’s not a fan. One of his greatest joys is sitting in the studio with artists and building songs from the ground with the ultimate goal of developing their sounds so they can make that one record that will take them to the next level. That one song can change an artist’s entire life. With his keen ear, Mizzo can identify when the bass needs to hit harder, when something needs to be changed, taken out or added in – down to the ad lib and syllable.
Working in talent and development for DCTOP20 has allowed Mizzo to be just as he wishes – a part of the machine in the background working to make artists majorly successful. In the long run, he wants to have a renowned entertainment company specializing in artist development and management. A leader that knows how to follow, Mizzo understands the concept of ‘team.’ His message to up-and-coming artists is, “Please understand this journey you are on is a marathon. It is not a sprint – the game has changed. It is going to take you time.”