Most people know Mariah Carey as a five-octave, legendary vocalist with the most number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 for a solo artist — 19 to be exact.
Her devoted fans (a.k.a. Lambs) recognize her as an elite songwriter and producer who has made 15 studio albums that each possesses ineffable quality.
Aside from her Lambs, very few people put respect on her underrated work — particularly 2001’s Glitter soundtrack and 2002’s Charmbracelet.
This is why Rated R&B is introducing Justice For, a new feature that reignites interest in an R&B artist’s unsung songs (and albums) that day-one fans and genre experts, like ourselves, have rightfully considered merit-worthy of a proper resurgence in the current music landscape.
For our inaugural piece, we spotlight an obscure R&B gem from Carey’s 1995 Daydream archives that has been gaining traction since she performed it last May during her three-day Caution World Tour residency in London.
The Lamb-cult gem is “Slipping Away” or better known as the “too R&B” jam that Carey claims many of her casual listeners “don’t know” from her body of work. Shockingly enough, the epic deep cut was worked as the B-side to her uberly successful Daydream single “Always Be My Baby.”
Why was this agonizing recording shunned from the official tracklisting of the diva’s follow-up to Music Box? It was implied that the muse behind this emotionally conflicted composition was Carey’s then-husband, Tommy Mottola, who was an executive at Sony Music Entertainment, the parent company to her then-label Columbia Records.
This is how things allegedly got complicated for the influential act. With Mottola having a strong hand in the final decision in her career, including approving track listings for albums, it was rumored that he was uninterested in her belting out explicit lyrics like “I keep denying that our, our love is dying” that alluded to marital discord.
Another reason “Slipping Away” was nixed from the final version of Daydream is Carey’s label (Columbia Records) reportedly considered the song to be too urban. Carey backed this claim in recent performances of the song, while on her 2018 tour.
Now even though Carey was able to flex her artistic muscles in the R&B and hip-hop arena for the first time on Daydream, it seemingly felt like she was still being pigeonholed as just a pop star.
Between Mottola and Columbia Records prevailing in the omission of this unappreciated classic on Daydream, it never had a fair shot at becoming a huge hit for the singer.
Laced with convincing expressions of a heavy heart and beautifully arranged melodies, the hidden gem could have followed the heels of her chart-topping honors during that supreme era such as the record-breakers “Fantasy” and “One Sweet Day” featuring Boyz II Men.
But is it too late for “Slipping Away” to make an impact on the future main charts? No. Previously released songs are the news hits. Ask Lizzo, whose two-year-old breakup anthem “Truth Hurts” reaped the benefits of a second wind on the Billboard Hot 100 last year. And what about Carey?
Taking advantage of fan-generated streaming parties and strategizing viral challenges and campaigns built around a song, Carey has seen how an already-released song like “All I Want For Christmas Is You” can cause a dent on the charts.
Keep in mind this fete didn’t come without a fight. From ineligibility to making an appearance for not being commercially released to banning recurrent singles, it seemed like Carey’s modern holiday standard would never join the company of her other Hot 100 toppers.
But after Billboard made important tweaks to their Hot 100 rules in 2012 that welcomed back any song on the popular chart, as long as it entered into the top 50, the festival carol soared higher and higher every Christmas season, including its first eligible year. And as previously mentioned, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” finally landed the hitmaker her 19th win on the Hot 100.
For this reason, “Slipping Away” isn’t exempt from receiving the same justice. Right now, however, the hidden gem is at a slight disadvantage from enjoying a resurgence on the Hot 100 or on any Billboard chart. The song isn’t available on any streaming platform. There’s only a high-quality version available on YouTube.
That could change, though, if Carey pleasantly surprised her Lambily by reissuing her Daydream album for its 25th anniversary in October. An updated version of the LP could include a remastered or newly recorded version of the track and come with an official music video that throws shades to those naysayers who didn’t want justice for this track back then.
This will leave her Lambily in shambles, causing them to overplay the track on all digital platforms, shake up the big charts, and further reinforce her reign as the undisputed Hot 100 queen.
It’s all just a thought, though. Secretly, we hope it becomes a reality. We know Carey’s Lambs would be eternally grateful.
Are you interested in MC re-releasing “Slipping Away” on streaming platforms and pushing for her 20th Hot 100 hit? Tweet Antwane at @iam_antwane.
As of October 2, 2020: Justice was served. “Slipping Away” appeared on The Rarities, Carey’s compilation of unreleased materials. Listen below.