Album: Mariah Carey: The Emancipation Of Mimi|
Street Date: April 12, 2005
Reviewed by: Brian
Throughout the years we have seen Mariah Carey go through a transition of sorts. Early in her career, she was one of the diva queens of pop music. As her career has progressed she has pushed the envelope and progressively gone more towards the hip hop/R&B spectrum, with mixed results both with fans, and in album sales. With her new release, The Emancipation of Mimi, it will be interesting to see if she continues her evolution towards being a hip hop/R&B artist, or if she goes back to the well singing heart-felt pop, or if there is an even mix of both.
1. It's Like That - The track opens with Jermaine Dupri yelling on the track, as he tends to do. The beat is a nice rap beat. It will get you to tap your foot or nod a little bit. Mariah hits some of her trademark notes in the song, but it just feels very strange to hear her singing about Bicardi and partying and such. This is just kind of a light, carefree song definitely geared towards the hip hop persuasion, including the typical DJ (I think it is Funk Flex, but I am not completely sure) yelling on the track at the end of the song.
2. We Belong Together - We go from a club hop song to more of a slowed down, R&B type song. Again, Mariah hits some of her trademark high notes and tears it down pretty well vocally. Kind of your middle of the road song. Typical "we should be together" song lyrics, typical R&B type beat.
3. Shake It Off - J.D. is back on the open of the track. This is a mid-tempo R&B song. It is rather forgetable, actually. The beat is okay, but nothing special. The lyrical content is not terribly appealing, either.
4. Mine Again - Probably the best song on the album so far. A slower tempo song which is pretty stripped down musically and just lets Mariah do her thing vocally. Nice lyrical content, but similar to "We Belong Together" in that it is more cliche stuff that you've heard before for the type of song it is. The song accomplishes itself though because this is the kind of song that old school Mariah Carey fans can latch onto.
5. Say Somethin' f/Snoop Dogg - Back to the hip hop. Kind of reminds me of a Neptune beat. Lots of synth stuff going on, drums, the usual. Lyrical content is pretty much useless. Snoop's verse is awful, but at least he confirmed my thought that this is a Neptune beat. Nothing great, just another cookie-cutter "hip pop" song.
6. Stay The Night - This is a mid-to-slow tempo, old-school sounding beat. I am not sure if it is a sample, but it wouldn't suprise me. It has that rap quality to it in that they throw random lyrics on it ("Throw your hands in the air!"). Not bad lyrical content. It is just strange in that Mariah is singing over an R&B/rap type beat.
7. Get Your Number f/Jermaine Dupri - Yes, Jermaine is back. Again. And they are letting him sing. Reach for the sound dial... now. The beat isn't bad, sounds somewhat innovative, but is nothing special. Jermaine Dupri's singing is the most amusing part of this song, but that is not saying a whole lot.
8. One and Only f/Twista - This is a slow R&B beat. It is a nice beat. The lyrical content is pretty good, and goes well with the beat. Mariah sounds good on the track. Twista spits some pretty tight stuff, sounding good on the track. I cringed when I saw this track title, but Mariah and Twista pull it off rather well. This could have some potential single viability, as it is one of the better songs on the CD.
9. Circles - A slower instrumental based song. Good vocal content. It sounds like something you'd find on one of Mariah's old albums before she went hip hop. She pulls out some of her nice high notes towards the end. This song works well, although it sticks out (in a good way) because most of the album around it isn't that great.
10. Your Girl - Drum-based beat. It isn't exactly hip hop, but it isn't pop either. It is some sort of happy medium. The song sounds kind of old fashioned in the way the lyrics and melodies are put together, but it is not bad. The beat and vocal tones work pretty well together. Nothing too special lyrically, but it is acceptable.
11. I Wish You Knew - A slower, band instrument based beat. The lyrics are nice, and this song again will remind people of old school Mariah. Probably too slow to be a radio song or have any pop appeal, but it is a good song nontheless, and works vocally, lyrically, and musically.
12. To The Floor f/Nelly - Neptune beat alert. The beat is pretty good. It isn't one of the annoying "beat on the tin can" beats, it is a nice mixed beat with some synthing, etc. Kind of reminds me of the beats on "Clones." ... Nelly doesn't add a whole lot to the song, he does a bit of singing with Mariah, but that is about it.
13. Joyride - This is a slower, piano based song. It compliments Mariah's vocals well. The lyrical content is okay. Not the best song on the album, but it is by far not the worst, either.
14. Fly Like a Bird - Another slow beat. Sounds kind of like an old-time light jazz band vibe. Mariah's vocals are not the greatest on the song, but she hits some of her trademark notes. At one point there is an orchestra of people who are singing with her, it adds a nice touch to the song.
The Japanese version of the CD has two bonus tracks ("Secret Love," a Swizz Beats track, and "Sprung," which features a rap beat). Neither song deserves much consideration, and it is obvious why they are bonus tracks. The Swizz Beats beat is pretty good, but the song isn't great. "Sprung" is okay, but nothing great.
Overall the CD is alright, but it by no means is anything special. There are a few tracks (It's Like That, One and Only, Circles, Mine Again) that will grab your ear and that sound good, but for the most part the CD will have your finger hovering over the "next track" button.
Make no doubt about the fact that Mariah still has talent, it is just song selection, and what she is doing on the songs. Despite being a hip hop aficionado and long time Mariah Carey fan, the swings from pop to hip hop feel strange. Plus, to hear Mariah singing on rap beats and trying to sing about rap topics doesn't do her talent justice. It just doesn't work. As much as I applaud artists for reaching out and performing in different genres of music, in this case I don't believe that Mariah's line-trotting between pop and hip hop will pay off successfully.
For more information on Mariah Carey, you can visit: Mariah Carey.com.
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