Mariah Carey is on the verge of becoming the biggest musical act ever. Her 18 number-one...
DJBooth Album Review
In case you didn’t catch it the first time, Mariah Carey…is on the verge of becoming…the biggest musical act…ever. Take a moment to think that over. Now, I’m not one to play the hater card, but considering the voluptuous siren’s undeniable dominance Mariah gets a shocking lack of respect from critics. I mean she’s had more hits than f**king Elvis! So why are the critics, in a word, hating? I’ll let you in on a little secret; the vast majority of music critics are male music snobs. If Mariah wore thrift store clothes and played avant-garde banjo they’d love her, but it seems the uptight bastards just can’t handle a hot, talented woman who makes music, first and foremost, for women. Not me. E=MC² won’t exactly inspire a generation to greatness, but it’s easily the best rhythm and pop album of the last year. So, break out your most glittery charm bracelet and start day dreaming about rainbows, cause I’m about to emancipate your inner-Mimi.
There’s no better place to start than with Touch My Body. This is exactly the type of record most critics line-up to criticize Mariah for; the production is feather-light and her vocals are dripping with more empty sweetness than a Splenda packet. All those criticisms are true, but they also miss the point. See, beneath Mariah’s sometimes delicate musical appearance is a hidden sense of humor and complexity. Just listen to the menace she puts behind “I will hunt you down,” or the subtle eroticism she sneaks into “come on and give me what I deserve.” In fact, if she deserves credit for anything it’s including unexpected guest artists on her albums. Let’s not forget she once bravely did a duet with O.D.B. and the surprises continue with the reggae-tinged Cruise Control. I guarantee you Damian Marley was not the label’s first choice of guest artist, but maybe he’s the reason Mariah’s able to adopt an inexplicably passable Jamaican accent for the second verse. Fine, so Cruise Control isn’t earth shattering. It’s not supposed to be, it’s pop music.
Which bring me to the criticism that E=MC² sounds exactly like The Emancipation of Mimi. First off, the album title does stand for the emancipation of Mariah Carey, part two (what you thought she was a secret physics theorist?). Second, if her last album was dope, and this album sounds exactly like her last album, doesn’t that make E=MC² dope too? Mariah found her musical soul mate in Jermaine Dupri’s perpetually bouncing beats, and the J.D. hit machine is in fine form once again on Thanx 4 Nothing, 2008’s version of Shake It Off. Thanx 4 Nothing may have decidedly more subdued production, but Mariah’s independent woman lyrics delivered in pitch perfect harmony has a similarly mesmerizing effect, right down to J.D.’s ever-present ad-libs. Despite the power of the world’s shortest hit-maker, Mariah turned to the decidedly newer (and taller) Danja for the beat to her second single, Migrate. Like some sort of musical loose tooth, Migrate doesn’t feel good, but damned if you can’t stop messing with it. Danja turns Mariah’s ridiculously high vocal sample into a whistling melody line floating over darkly snapping percussion, and while I keep waiting for T-Pain’s voice-box shtick to get old, he manages to pull-off yet another addictively catchy guest verse. Personally I wouldn’t compare club-hopping to the movement of large aquatic mammals and birds in the winter, but that’s just me.
E=MC² isn’t an exact duplicate of The Emancipation of Mimi, it does contain some of the infamously distant Mariah’s most personal material to date. Side Effects details her abusive marriage to label-mogul Tommy Motola with gripping detail, and while the swaggering Young Jeezy was far from the best choice for a verse, it’s not enough to derail the emotional intensity. She may not be able to hit the gut-wrenching level of Mary J., but that’s why they’re different artists. Listen, E=MC² isn’t a classic album, but today I’m leaving the negativity to my critical brethren. I’d rather just sit back and enjoy music’s undisputed greatest hit-maker of all-time, Mariah Carey.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Apr 15, 2008
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