Mariah Carey's "E=MC2" offers genre-crossing equation
By Ann Donahue
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - On a recent Monday morning, Mariah Carey flew the red-eye from New York to Los Angeles, stopped by Ryan Seacrest's morning radio show to chat, recorded a background vocal track for the song "I Stay in Love" for her upcoming album, then recorded a video for Wal-Mart's "Soundcheck" series, which will be used as bonus footage online and played in stores.
By the time all of this was done, it was just past noon. Her afternoon consisted of another radio interview, and in the evening she returned to the studio to work on mastering the album, "E=MC2" -- due April 15 via Island Def Jam.
If "E=MC2" scores big, Carey could find herself in elite chart company. She's currently tied at No. 2 with Elvis Presley for the most Hot 100 No. 1 singles, with 17. The Beatles hold the crown with 20.
The busy singer recently spoke with Billboard about the new album.
Q: "E=MC2" crosses a lot of genres. There are a few ballads, but there's definitely some hip-hop and even some gospel-tinged songs and a bit of a reggae beat.
Mariah Carey: I'm really a festive person, and that's what came across with the "Mimi" album. I hate it when people are like (uses a dramatic voice): "She's taking a new direction with hip-hop." I'm like, "Will you please freakin' research?" I've been doing this for a long time -- working with (writer-producer) Dave Hall on "Dreamlover," using the "Ain't No Half-Steppin"' loop.
I think that it was Q-Tip -- he said this to me in '97 --that I was really the catalyst for so many of these artists who are now trying to infuse (songs with hip-hop). It was just digging in the crates with Dave Hall and coming up with, "Hey, let's use this loop!" And from then on, I did it anytime I could. The next was "Fantasy," which was a groundbreaking moment for me, the ability to be able to work with Puffy (Sean Combs).
Right now everything is kind of merged together because pop is such a nebulous format, in my opinion. You'll hear a hip-hop record next to sort of a rock-sounding pop beat, or a country song. Aretha Franklin can still have a hit -- look at "A Rose Is Still a Rose" -- it's just her talent is shining through. She can work with anybody at any time in her life. Same thing with Patti LaBelle and Luther (Vandross), God rest his soul, before he passed away. The true talent will always come through. Continued...