Marcus Canty is a star in the making. At the end of 2011, he came in at fourth place on the wildly popular voting-driven talent show, X Factor, where he was mentored by music industry icon L.A. Reid. Since then, he’s gone from an amateur performer to a label-backed artist. When the show ended, Reid signed him to Epic records – giving this Bowie, Maryland native a shot at his dreams.
Although he’s currently working on his debut album, Canty is featured on the The Think Like a Man soundtrack alongside John Legend, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Rowland. His single, “Won’t Make a Fool Out You,” is set to get the video treatment in the coming weeks.
ESSENCE.com caught up with the budding vocalist to discuss life after X Factor, his close relationship with his mom and why he wants to make music like Beyonce.
ESSENCE.com: How has your life changed since appearing on X Factor?
MARCUS CANTY: My life changed around October. That’s when it got crazy. I can’t even say that because the first audition is when it got crazy. At the time, I didn’t have Twitter and people were like, “You’re trending.” I was like, “What’s trending, dude?” People started calling my phone that I haven’t heard from in years. I don’t even know how some of them got my phone number. I think that’s the joy that I get out of this whole thing is hearing people be excited for me. People have seen how hard I’ve tried to work to become this megastar that I can potentially be — which I will be soon — I get a joy out of that. People look at me like a hometown hero. My life has changed.
ESSENCE.com: Do the Bobby Brown comparisons rub you the wrong way?
CANTY: I love the comparisons. I love Bobby Brown. As a little kid, I used to love “Every Little Step.” I used to sing it in the bathroom. When I came on the show, Simon Cowell said I reminded him of Usher, which is cool because I love Usher. Usher was my man, too. So the comparisons, I’m cool with it. As long as I get directed as, “This is Marcus Canty, Epic recording artist.” I just want people to know that I’m Marcus Canty.
ESSENCE.com: On the show, it became apparent that your mom is very close to you. You sang Boyz II Men’s “Mama” for her. Tell us about your relationship.
CANTY: I talk about her so much because it’s the truth. I don’t have to put on a façade. My mom is literally the key to everything in my life. Everything I needed she provided it. Even when she didn’t have the funds to do it, she found a way. I’ve always looked at my mom as a superwoman. As I grew up and got older, I started to see she’s human. Being on the show is when I really noticed it – to see how excited she was. I’ve never seen my mom get so excited about something. My mom is the reason I sing. I originally didn’t want to do X Factor at all. My mom was the key.
ESSENCE.com: What is the biggest lesson you learned as an artist and as a person on X Factor?
CANTY: L.A. Reid told me, “Never let anyone take away your joy.” As a person, I’ve always tried so hard to stay positive. Even on the X Factor, there’s so much strenuous stuff that goes on — you’re going here and you’re going there. For young kids, I can only imagine what it’s like because it’s already tough on us. I think that honestly, making sure you keep joy and positivity in life. Steer away from the negativity. I know that the media sometimes like to hit you up with the negativity a lot more. But I think staying positive really keeps me in the role.
ESSENCE.com: We hear you’re working on a debut album. Describe the flavor and what fans can expect.
CANTY: I’m working on an EP. We’re looking at early summer, hopefully. Tricky is head of A&R at Epic now so he’s working with me on my project. He also produced “Won’t Make a Fool Out You” featured on the Think Like a Man soundtrack and Johnson Arthur wrote it. I got some heavy hits. As for what I want it to sound like? I always bring up Beyoncé’s, “Love On Top.” It’s so versatile to where they play it in so many different places and people will love it. And that’s the key to music. Nowadays storytelling is what carries people further in life. Storytelling is making people feel good when you see it in the records. I just want to make the ladies feel nice.