Mariah Carey


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Mariah Carey Interview

by Cindy Zee

Okay, so I've got an exclusive interview with one of Warner's biggest singing sensations and I'm half-an-hour late. Arghh!

The taxi pulls up to the curb and I see Mariah heading for her stretch limo (painted white and matching her outfit and kitty). I scream out her name and two of the biggest goons I've ever seen reached into their coats like Elliot Ness on a bad day.

"Mariah, it's me. Cristy from Cupcake. Sorry I'm so late but I just got my period and had to take care of business."

With that statement the goons dropped the attitude (boys always do when you mention the "P" word). Before I could say "motrin" we were sitting in a seriously fresh ride sipping lemonade and bumpin' some tunes. It was all good 'cause the goons sat in front and drove while me and Mariah chilled in the back. It was pretty hot but Mariah said she couldn't open the windows 'cause people start trippin' on her, so we popped the sunroof and started the interview.

Cindy: What's really goin' on with Mariah Carey? You've got it all, girl. Money, cars, a good man, and an incredible career. Is there anything you haven't achieved?

Mariah: God, there so much I still want to do. Sometimes I feel like all this money is just holding me back from what's really important, the children. When I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean, I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.
Cindy: So is Mariah saying that having children is definitely in her future?

Mariah: NO! I just wish that kids all over could have a better life. You know?

Cindy: What's goin' on at home, Mariah? What's it like living in a castle of a house in Bedford, NY?

Mariah: Sometimes I feel like it's a prison.

Cindy: What do you mean?

Mariah: I don't know (Mariah pauses and begins looking out of her limo window.). I don't want to talk about it. Let's talk about my new single.

Cindy: The one with Boys to Men or the one with ODB?

Mariah: Let me tell you something, girl. Recording that song with ODB was painful. I swear, when he grabbed the mic and started rhymin' and spittin'........... ooooooooooohhhhh, girl! I wanted to talk to him so bad, but I'm a married woman, you know?

Cindy: Girl, you scandalous. You can't be lustin' after ODB when you're married to the president of both your record labels.

Mariah: I'm not even trippin' like that, though. I love my husband. He's too good to me.

 

Interview to Mariah Carey

Thursday October 11, 2001

One month to the day after the attacks on America, singer Mariah Carey says we are all living in a new world. She says, “We all have to be just really aware of what we can and can't do."
Sitting down exclusively with "Extra," the songbird shares her fears as the U.S. plunges deeper into war. Carey cancelled her international promotional tour for "Glitter" for safety reasons and says, for now, she's focusing on the home front.

She says, “My apartment is pretty close to Ground Zero, and the police commissioner took me on a tour. It was the most devastating thing I’ve ever seen in my life."

For Mariah, the tragedy truly hit close to home. Carey was born and raised in New York, and she has faith the people here can rebuild their lives. Carey says, “I know New York is going to recover from this. I know the world is gonna recover from what's gone on, but just growing up in New York, for me, it's going to take a while."

Mariah, an idol to millions of fans, says it was during her tour of the ruins that she met America’s real heroes. Carey also spent time at a family center, offering support to families who lost loved ones. She says, “All the stories, they're all heartbreaking, but it's nice to see how people have bonded together to find relief."

Mariah's relief efforts came in a song. She performed her hit ballad "Hero" at last month's celebrity telethon, which to date has raised more than 150-million dollars, but Mariah doesn't want credit for her efforts. She says this time she is just one voice in a chorus trying to help the country heal.

Mariah says, “I'm an American and I’m here just trying to get by like everybody else and do my part to help."

 

Free at Last

Jennifer Vineyard, John Norris and Jasmine Dotiwala

Mariah Carey is used to being asked lots of questions — about her striptease on "TRL," her 2001 hospitalization for "exhaustion," her less-is-more approach to clothing, not to mention her divorce from one of music's biggest moguls.

But the woman with pop music's biggest voice is raising questions on her forthcoming album, The Emancipation of Mimi, which comes out April 12. Like: Who exactly is this Mimi character? Why does she need to be emancipated, and from what? And — most significantly — can this album help her stage a post-breakdown, post-Glitter, comeback? The way her last album, Charmbracelet, was supposed to, but didn't?


Actually, Carey is wondering about a lot of these things herself. She stops this interview to get a status check, to see if someone will tell her, considering everything, if she's doing OK. "After all these years of interviewing different celebrities, and seeing people at different stages of their careers, do you see the ones that, really, fame kind of screws with them?" she asks. "Am I one of the better people?"

After being assured that she is, Mariah goes on to say that she's more comfortable now about her opinions and her talent. Because, of course, she is Mimi: It was a childhood nickname that she now employs to put some distance between Mariah the person and Mariah the celebrity. And she says she does feel emancipated, finally shaking free the shackles that made her the songbird in ex-husband Tommy Mottola's gilded cage for so long. "I wasn't allowed to say much 10 years ago," she says. "I was like, 'Yes, new album, singing, thank you.' "

A lot has happened since she walked down the aisle with Mottola in 1993 — after dating him while he was still married to his wife of 20 years — and signing to his record label when he was the CEO of Sony Entertainment. Her years with Mottola made her career — transforming her from an obscure backup singer into a superstar, starting with her "Vision of Love" single in 1990 — but she says his controlling "guidance" became damaging to her psyche. She even jokingly referred to their mansion in Bedford, New York, as "Sing Sing" — not only in reference to the prison, but because that was all she was supposed to do.

It's been eight years since they split up, and Carey, now 35, says it's taken her that long to come into her own. Thus, she's able to don her wedding gown for the video for her next single, "We Belong Together" — a sequel of sorts to current clip "It's Like That," in which, interestingly, a wealthy older man, played by Eric Roberts, spies on her every move. She says the old $25,000 gown has no sentimental value for her anymore.

"Did I want to go buy an off-the-rack wedding dress [for the video] when I have a freaking Vera Wang with a 20-foot train sitting in storage?" Carey asks. "Why not? I mean, come on — the dress is the least abusive part of the whole thing. If I had worn the dress every day of my life in that relationship, it would have been burned in the incinerator long ago. But the dress was worn for a moment. And that moment was not an unhappy experience. It was the rest of the relationship that was the problem."

Despite the split, Carey stayed on Mottola's label until 2000 — which she admits might have been a mistake. She doesn't blame her ex-husband outright for the fact that "I'm Real" by Jennifer Lopez — another singer Mottola played Svengali to — ended up sounding an awful lot like two songs destined for Glitter ("Loverboy" and "If We"), instead referring to any resemblance between the songs as "tomfoolery." And as for any bad feelings between her and Lopez, Carey says, "I don't even know her. We kind of just said hello once or twice."

During an interview at New York's Hot 97 in early March, Funkmaster Flex asked Carey about the rumors that her manager, Benny Medina — who formerly managed Lopez — was about to take J. Lo on as a client again. Flex implied a conspiracy. "This isn't the first time that someone else has been in both camps," he said. "I heard one time, there was a producer [either Mottola, or possibly Irv Gotti] that's in her camp right now, but was heavily hanging out in your sessions."

"I had to make that label change," she says now. "The fighting I had to do, the constant battle with Sony, that whole thing, that put me in a different place — even emotionally. I was constantly on guard, as opposed to being really more true to who I am. You can fight against people, and fight to the death, but I can't control the world."

Emancipation marks the first time Carey feels free to say what she wants, to sing the way she wants, even to dress the way she wants. Even though 2002's Charmbracelet was supposed to be the album that freed her from the bad vibes of her disastrous 2001 album/film Glitter and her subsequent much-publicized meltdown, she still felt a need to conform to what she thought the public and her advisors wanted from her.

"Everybody was like, 'She needs to do those middle-of-the-road ballads, she needs to get back to that,' " she says. So she did, and the resulting album wound up selling more than a million copies in the U.S. alone. An impressive number to be sure, but not when compared with her multiplatinum past sales history — and the album failed to counterbalance the bad press from what she calls the "supposed breakdown."

At that point, she says, "I really started second-guessing myself. And then I realized, like, all right, I have to go with my gut. Because everybody's got an opinion, and so many people's opinions about me are like polar opposites. They're like, 'We love it when she does ballads, make her do the ballads.' Then they're like, 'We want to hear a hip-hop record.' 'Why is she dressing like this? She should show less skin.' 'She should show more.' You know what I mean? I'm like, 'Stay in your lane, and I'll figure it out.' "

She says she faced similar problems in the wake of her meltdown. "Every interview became a '20/20' moment. Everybody was like, 'Be vulnerable,' you know? And it's like, can I just be me? Because honestly, this whole thing" — the breakdown — "was blown out of proportion, and I just would love to not even talk about it. But that wasn't possible."

So, she reverted to an earlier version of herself, one who wasn't concerned about the public or its expectations. On Emancipation, she says, "I felt I did the album I wanted to do." She moves beyond her recent save-the-pipes moves of cooing or breathing songs, and really sings. There are collaborations with Snoop Dogg ("Say Somethin' "), Jermaine Dupri ("Get Your Number"), Twista (the call-and-response "One and Only") and Nelly ("To the Floor"). There are innocent love songs and spiritual ballads ("We Belong Together," "Fly Like a Bird"). There are party songs ("It's Like That"), let's-get-busy songs ("Get Your Number," "Stay the Night"), send-off songs ("Shake it Off"), and songs of lost love, too ("Circles"). Being emancipated means you can go anywhere you want.


The album, she says, "is not about making the older executives happy by making a bring-down-the-house, tearjerker ballad, or [something] steeped in the media dramas of my life. What I tried to do was keep the sessions very sparse, underproduced, like in '70s soul music, when all the musicians were in there at once, feeding off each other — me showing them vocally where I'm going and giving them the vibe in which to take it all musically.

"When [new Island/Def Jam label chief] L.A. Reid heard that people call me Mimi," she continues, "he said, 'I feel your spirit on this record. You should use that name in the title, because that's the fun side of you that people don't get to see — the side that can laugh at the diva jokes, laugh at the breakdown jokes, laugh at whatever they want to say about you and just live life and enjoy it.'

"So I'm kind of just living in this moment right now, and just enjoying it. It's a happy space that I'm in."

Besides, she adds, "To say 'The Emancipation of Mariah Carey' would've been so obnoxious."

 

Please Meet Mimi

The singer's new disc shows a more personal side. She talks about making statements, watching American Idol, and working for Jay-Z.

By C. Bottomley

Mariah Carey is re-entering normal. After her 2001 Glitter hiccup and its attendant breakdown, the Long Island girl with the eight-octave range returns with the forthcoming

VH1: I told a friend I was interviewing you and he said, "Yeah, Mariah Carey. Where's she been?"

Mariah Carey: Well, here I am.

VH1: Where have you been?

I've been on tour and I've been making an album for a year and a half, which is the longest it's ever taken me to make an album, with the exception of my first record. This is like such a labor of love for me.

VH1: Why did it take so long?

I did 19 or 20 songs. I would do something and love it, and I come up with different ideas of people to collaborate with. Accidents would happen that would be like incredible moments. I was working with the Neptunes and I ended up doing a collaboration with Snoop and then with Nelly because we were all doing our records at the same time. That was just a great moment where it wasn't like you couldn't plan it or even ask for it.

VH1: Have you ever gotten writer's block?

You know what? I don't know that I've had writer's block, because usually when I sit down with somebody - whether I start singing a piano player riffs to play or they go into a chord progression and I start singing melodies on top - we can create something. That's my outlet and it always has been. But I feel like I'm more prolific at this moment than maybe ever.

VH1: So what are you being emancipated from?

I went on a long tangent about what the title meant when the name of the album got leaked, because everybody was like "Mimi? What does that mean?" Nobody understood.

VH1: It's unusual because your titles are usually one definitive word.

Right, but everybody started having their issues about that.

VH1: When you get up to four words, suddenly a statement is being made.

Well, here's what it is: Nobody calls me Mariah except my mother and she doesn't even really call me that. Me and my friends have a million nicknames that we use for each other, but Mimi was a really personal nickname that only people I really love and care about call me. When I proposed the concept of the title to L.A. Reid, the CEO of Island Def Jam, he was like, "I love that, because it's the side of you that I'm hearing in this album, a free-spirited person."

VH1: What's the "It's Like That" video going to be like?

I don't know and neither do you! [Laughs] That's just a saying, I'm not being mean.

VH1: It's being directed by Brett Ratner, so I'm guessing explosions, boats flipping over and a Chris Tucker cameo.

Well, we would love that. Brett Ratner and I did the "Heartbreaker" video together, which is one of the favorite videos that I've ever done. The best thing about it was that it had a sense of humor. That's the thing that Brett brings to the table. He knows me as a person, so he knows that fun side of me, which is what this whole album and project is about.

VH1: Do you ever catch one of your old videos and go, "What was I thinking?"

Constantly! I love "Honey," or the video for the song I did with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, "Breakdown" or "Heartbreaker." But there were ones that everybody was always like, "You're about your voice and who really cares about the video?" Which was okay and I'm glad they thought that way, but it's nice to make fun videos, too.

VH1: Everybody on American Idol is trying to be the next Mariah Carey. Has the show vindicated you as a singer?

Are they really? Because everybody talks about it to me, but I don't watch the show except to see Randy Jackson!

VH1: Is it amusing to see Randy playing judge?

Yes, because I've known Randy since before my first album came out. If it's on and someone's watching it at my house, I'll look at the TV and be like, "What's Randy doing?" because it's funny to me.

VH1: What did he have to say about your voice when you were working together?

We had collaborative moments. He was my musical director on a couple of tours. We'd discuss things; he's not like, "Oh, I think you should do it like this." He's not being annoying in any way.

VH1: Speaking of old collaborators, were you surprised to hear of Ol' Dirty Bastard's passing?

Yes, I was very upset. He was a really unique person, an artist. It's a loss and it's difficult for everybody who cared about him. He was totally unique. He didn't try to be like anybody else. Because of that, it made him stand out. His style of rhyming yet singing yet just going on a tangent with whatever kind of ad lib stuff he would be doing in the background on certain records was always hot.

VH1: Since Butterfly you've embraced an urban sound. As a fan, what's been the most exciting development in hip-hop?

It's amazing that so many people that I've watched their careers explode, like Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri, [have become] the heads of record companies. It's a major accomplishment in terms of how far hip-hop has gotten. It's really nice, because I remember when I was really, really young starting out the executives who turned their nose up at hip-hop and looked at it as a fad. Now I'm like, "Ha ha!"



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