As part of her Caution press run, Mariah Carey joined Genius’ Rob Markman ahead of its release for an hour-long discussion. The elusive chanteuse dished on her new album, her songwriting process, as well as, quite a few interesting stories about songs from her impressive catalog that are near and dear to her.
Here are six takeaways from Mariah Carey’s interview with Rob Markman.
1. She shared her songwriting process over the years.
“It’s sort of like I’ll have to stop everything I’m doing and go and record the melody. It used to be a little tape recorder by the bed and then it was to call myself on the phone and just record it and now it’s voice notes. Sometimes I’ll just stop myself from getting too much of an idea, I’m like ‘I can’t do this.’ I gotta wait and let me just record this part and then just stop because I’m afraid it’s too much of a thing to get into if I’m not going finish the whole thing. I like working with people that I feel are just great musicians, great piano players, so I can articulate something to them and they can kind of like be a vessel that I can work through.”
2. She almost gave away her hit song “Hero.”
“It didn’t take me a long time to write this song, it wasn’t a whole thing. The first part of it was a gift. We were talking about this movie starring Dustin Hoffman called Hero and Tommy Mottola was there and to his credit, he was like they want Gloria [Estefan] to do this song and Luther [Vandross] is doing a song, and then they explained what the movie was about. I walked out of the room but I started having the melody with the words to Hero just right from that moment. I went back in the room and I was like here’s what I’m hearing and I sang it to Walter [Afanasieff] and I was like this is how it goes and then Tommy was like, I think you need to keep that one for yourself, don’t give that away.
3. Carey directed the music video for “Fantasy.”
“The best part of it was when ODB was there and he wanted the wig. He made the stylist take him to the mall and get that wig and he kind of caused a ruckus in the mall. You couldn’t write this stuff. It was just classic moments. I started directing videos by default because I wasn’t allowed to work with the people that I wanted to work with. No offense to anybody that I did work with, it was just like anybody that was pushing the limit with sexuality, they weren’t invited to the party so I had to step in and do my own homogenized version of what I wanted to be doing.”
4. “The Roof” is one of Carey’s favorite hip-hop collaborations.
“I was driving upstate and I was listening to the radio and I was listening to ‘Shook Ones’ and I said started singing the melody to the hook on top of the original Mobb Deep version. Then I ended up in the studio with Tone and Poke of Trackmasters and told them I wanted to do that song. There’s a foreboding thing about it, it’s dangerous. The beat itself, it has a darkness about it. I always wished that that had been a bigger record because that was my favorite song. I loved making the record, I loved everything about the video, the whole thing and working with Mobb Deep, they actually got on the remix. It doesn’t feel like you’re going to write a love song on top of it but the song is a true story.”
5. She wrote “Looking In” in 15 minutes.
“That needed to be written. I had to write that as a therapeutic moment to myself and certain people got annoyed with me when I wrote that because I was being honest. It was like the most honest I had ever been, in terms of lyrically. It really needed to be said, in terms of my being able to exist. I had to breathe and I wasn’t able to do that in my life. ”
6. Lil’ Kim’s “Crush On You” was a beat Carey always wanted to use.
“It was always one of my favorite records and I still think it’s one of the best records that we could ever use. For me, that beat, it’s just like you can’t deny it. It’s a feel-good record, you know what I mean? It’s one of those records that is timeless.”
Her new album, Caution, is available now. Make sure to get tickets for her North American tour, which is set kick off February 2019.
Words by Danielle Brissett