Oct 01 2007

VIBE's The Ultimate 90: Mariah Carey

< > From the November 2007 issue of VIBE magazine, page 102.


Anticipating the follow-up to her larger-than-life The Emancipation of Mimi(Island, 2005), we've compiled the most essential moments of Mariah Carey's unforgettable 17-year career. Because, unlike your current girlfriend, Ms. Mariah doesn't have -- and has never had -- an expiration date.

BUSTA RHYMES FEAT. MARIAH CAREY AND THE FLIPMODE SQUAD - "I Know What You Want" from It Ain't Safe No More (J, 2002) Flanking Busta's come-hither raps, Mimi masters love's mystery on this slithery post-Glitter comeback.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. DEM FRANCHIZE BOYZ - "Say Something (So So Def Remix)" (Island/Def Jam, 2006) Pharrell co-produced the original, but M.C. plus J.D. is a magic equation: Jermaine Dupri bests the Neptunes with a breezy club synth that gilds Mariah's brave come-on, resung for the new beat.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. PUFF DADDY, MASE, AND THE LOX - "Honey (Bad Boy Remix)" (Columbia, 1997) The Treacherous Three's 1980 "The Body Rock" gets the Puff treatment on this banner Bad Boy extravaganza, proving she's hip hop through and through.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. JADAKISS - "Miss You" from the The Remixes (Sony, 2003) She makes such an impact when she sings of nostalgia. The Jay-to-the-muah cosign crowned her a de facto D-Block debutante.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. CAM'RON AND JUELZ SANTANA - "Your Girl (Dipset Remix)" (mixtape, 2006) Cam turns an otherwise decent roller-rink track into a meeting of don't-love-ya swag and lady-lover passion. The pathos!

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. JAY-Z AND FREEWAY - "You Got Me" from Charmbracelet (Island, 2002) Just Blaze's epic beats demand greatness, and Mariah's one of a few who can live up. Her delivery on this crush-ode withers the gritty Roc stars, reducing Free to Winnie the Pooh references -- and Jay to opening his wallet.

MARIAH CAREY - "Emotions" from Emotions (Columbia, 1991) She hit a G No. 7 -- one of the highest notes on the piano -- on this Sheila Hutchinson-worthy discotheque classic.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. BOYZ II MEN - "One Sweet Day" from Daydream (Columbia, 1995) An impassioned eulogy recorded around the time of the passing of David Cole of Clivilles & Cole, Mimi's friend and former producer.

MARIAH CAREY - "I'll Be There" from MTV Unplugged (Columbia, 1992) In this live cover, Mariah matches the passion of a Jackson. Shout out to background lifer Trey Lorenz.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY - "Breakdown (Mo' Thugs Remix)" from Butterfly (Columbia, 1997) With staccato arrangements and slices of heaven on her tongue, Mariah transcends genre on her first collabo with Bone Thugs.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. BABYFACE - "Never Forget You" from Music Box (Columbia, 1993) Her piercing vocals amplify Babyface's signature indelible melodies.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. OL' DIRTY BASTARD - "Fantasy Remix" (Columbia, 1995) By cribbing from Tom Tom Club's chirpy 1981 "Genius of Love," Mariah ensures dance-floor longevity, while the late O.D.B. shouts out a random assortment of cities and continents (Sacramento?).

MARIAH CAREY - "Vision of Love" from Mariah Carey (Columbia, 1990) Her first single -- and who can forget the first time they heard that highest register, that emotional quiver, those forceful pipes? What soul!

MARIAH CAREY - "Petals" from Rainbow (Columbia, 1999) Sung as if through tears, this low, sorrowful ballad captures the turmoil of years gone by.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. DRU HILL - "The Beautiful Ones" from Butterfly (Columbia, 1997) Trading verses and moans, this quintet aches with a tension that could make Prince blush.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. JERMAINE DUPRI AND LIL' BOW WOW - "All I Want For Christmas Is You (So So Def Remix)" from Greatest Hits (Sony, 2001) ATL bounce, gospel back-up, glossy arrangement -- you can almost smell the chestnuts.

MARIAH CAREY - "Shake It Off" from The Emancipation of Mimi (Island, 2005) This is the original "Irreplaceable" and the only anthem for any girl who's had to dump a fool.

MARIAH CAREY - "I Don't Wanna Cry" from Mariah Carey (Columbia, 1990) In one of her first break-up ballads, she strikes a perfect balance between vocal ability and emotional rawness.

MARIAH CAREY - "I Feel It" (unreleased, 2005) An Emancipation outtake 'net-leaked in '07. The '70s soul production inspires Mimi to channel Michael, Smokey, and Marvin.

MARIAH CAREY FEAT. USHER - "How Much" from Rainbow<,i> (Columbia, 1999) Subtle and breathy, the R&B superstars sweat with real, on-mic chemistry.
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