Emancipation of Mariah
She has been divorced from Mottola, the former boss of Carey's then-record label Sony Music, for 10 years. But his shadow looms profoundly over Carey's onward journey, symbolic and otherwise, to true freedom. "I was salvaging a relationship that was very oppressive and controlling by just giving in and getting married," she says. "I wasn't ready, I was too young, I wasn't prepared and I wasn't the right person. And I have a lot of guilt about that," Carey says. "It was a naive thing to do and I wish I hadn't done it. I take the blame, totally."
Carey's new album, The Emancipation of Mimi, is, as the title suggests, a celebration of freedoms. But, importantly, it finds Carey owning up to past mistakes, and absorbing hard knocks to move forward. "For this album, I think it was important to be myself, and not take myself too seriously, which is just the reality of who I am," she says. "It was about letting go and not taking on other people's perceptions of me. It wasn't about a record company thing of, 'Let's talk about struggles and your life and the rumours'. "It's me being me. And it's nice to see it actually worked."
Certainly, Emancipation is Carey tweaked and twisted by hip-hop, soul and gospel. Hotshots Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo share the sound boards with James Poyser and Big Jim Wright to deliver Carey's least melodramatic album since her 1990 self-titled debut. Her list of priors - producers, that is - is impressive, underscoring how Carey's ear to the street connects to her reign on the charts.
She has worked with most, and in most cases, outlasted them, including David Coles, Robert Clivilles, Sean Combs and David Morales. She knew Chad and Pharrell (The Neptunes) before they became pop's must-have ingredient. "Pharrell is a friend," Carey says. "He's got his own, very specific style of producing, and I think he thought I was going to come in and be very controlling. We had a conversation about that and we had a fun session. Nelly was in the room, Snoop was in the other, and we ended up making this record together. It was a different approach to production, even to singing. Usually, I kick everybody out of the room when I sing. But Pharrell was so back and forth, and between sessions," Carey says, "I just didn't care."
Jermaine Dupri, a Carey collaborator for a decade, perfects hip-hop crossover on We Belong Together, yet the real revelations are elsewhere. Hugo's genius keyboards on Say Something, a Neptunes production with Snoop Dogg rap, is space-station elevator muzak.
But the emancipated Carey, whose last album wallowed in apologist ballads, seems to have reconnected with the joy of singing again. "Weeping man, dour in the night," Carey says softly before the track Fly Like A Bird ascends to epic gospel vocal heaven, "but joy comes in the morning." The line, from the Bible, was suggested by Carey's pastor. Carey says they are the comforting words she needed to hear during her now-famous bout of exhaustion in 2002. "There was a time when I really needed somebody to say that to me, and there was nobody," she says. "I really needed that statement to be clear for people who don't have somebody to say that for them."
Why did Carey's close circle fail to relay those healing words three years ago? "I don't think everybody is that enlightened," she replies. "And I think there is a certain something that happens when you become a celebrity. I am aware of it. People tend to walk on eggshells. But the people who can truly show me who they are end up being my real friends. I appreciate realness in people. I wasn't born famous. I was born a regular person who has gone through ups and downs and struggles and knows what it's like not to have money and fame."
In 2002, Carey checked into a hospital suffering exhaustion. That two-week period was largely reported as Carey's mental and physical breakdown. But more disturbing to Carey were untrue accounts she tried to slash her wrists. "The scariest thing about that period was realising what a massive machine the press is and how they can create a public perception. I guess it's realising your vulnerability. But to go through things professionally and personally, whether they have been sensationalised or not, it is still part of my journey, and I can come back and talk about it. Most people would be really bitter and jaded and hating the world. But you know what? We all go through difficult times. You have to be optimistic, have faith and get through it."
Carey also will get over the universally bad critiques for her movie debut, Glitter. A faux autobiography and rags to riches tale, Glitter is a cult classic of shocking dialogue and shallow characters nailed to a nasty bass-synth soundtrack. But the Glitter debacle swallowed Wise Girls, an indie film Carey did in 2001, which garnered good reviews and a standing ovation at Sundance. "Of course I was discouraged and distraught by what happened to Glitter, but the fact I had done Wise Girls and got great good notices encouraged me to keep going forward and looking for the right edgy roles."
"That's where I belong," Carey says firmly, "not in some fluff." Carey lists four definitions for emancipation on her new album, but it boils down to one thing: freedom.
(Courier-Mail - Mariah Hero)
|© The Mariah Carey Archives 1998 - 2013 | 66 visitors online|