In 2005, Mariah Carey released the greatest success of that decade, an indelible piano ballad entitled "We Belong Together." At that time, a young Ray Romulus served as personal assistant to the writer and producer Jermaine Dupri, who participated in four songs of Carey's bestseller. The emancipation of mimi., including "We Belong Together". "I would be close to Mariah all the time," Romulus recalls. "We would fly to Mexico to his house and kick him."
So "it was definitely a complete circle" when he met Carey again recently, this time as a member of the Grammy winning production team, the Stereotypes. "When we got back to the studio, she told me:" Oh, my God, are you a producer now? ", Romulus recalls.
While working in The emancipation of mimi., Carey hoped to recover from Glow Y Enchanted bracelet, which did not meet their high commercial expectations (although the first has developed a fervent follow-up in subsequent years). She found herself in a similar position while preparing to release Caution last week. His last big success, the duo "#Beautiful" with Miguel, came out five and a half years ago, marking the longest absence of the Top 20 of his entire career. On top of that, their new album was also their first release on Epic Records after a relationship of more than a decade with Island Def Jam Music Group (which split in 2014) and then Def Jam on their own.
The ease and polish of Caution, even though, hide the bets Carey does not try to animate his numbers of transmission when packing the album with a million songs, and there are no equipment badly adjusted with the impetuous rappers of SoundCloud or the awkwardly improvised international collaborations. Instead, the album remains resolutely resolved. More importantly, some of these songs are the strongest that Carey has released in a decade.
"It does not sound artificial, or that she tried to do something out of the ordinary," says Ezekiel Lewis, Executive Vice President of A & R for Carey's new home, Epic Records. "Sylvia [Rhone, who runs the label] and I just wanted to provide a blank canvas for Mariah, to give her the creative space to realize her vision. She is a legend and knows exactly what she wants. "
In practice, this meant a reordering of the staff. Instead of Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, who helped with much of the star's latest album, Carey brought a lot of new names. This group included Bibi Bourelly (Rihanna, Usher), Lido (Ariana Grande, Halsey) and Luca Polizzi (Roy Woods, Yo Gotti), younger musicians who do not know a pre-Mariah pop universe. Carey also called Skrillex, best known for his role in driving frantic electronic music and interchange in the mainstream, and stereotypes, whose love for the sumptuous inflatable production of Bruno Mars, "That's what I Like Like ", he won them a song of the year. Grammy in January.
It is important to note that no producer worked in more than two Caution songs That's unusual in the context of Carey's recent albums, which involved great contributions from Dupri and Cox, Terius "The-Dream" Nash and Tricky Stewart. This time, no one other than Carey has a quorum on the tracks, a subtle change of authority towards the singer.
The skeletons of several Caution the songs were assembled from scratch in the studio, often during the night sessions, with Carey and his collaborators talking to each other. "You can not start writing before Mariah enters the room, she wants to participate," says Priscilla Renea, who has written for acts such as Mary J. Blige and Rihanna, and Romulo expresses a similar sentiment.I was seeing Wendy williams A couple of weeks ago, he made a comment about how Mariah simply enters a studio and the songs are made for her and sings them, "she says." I want to let her know: No. Mariah writes all her records. She is very involved every step of the way. She knows what she does.
During one of the Carey and Renea sessions, the conversation went to the #MeToo movement. "She is very animated, she has all these phrases that she will always say," recalls Renea. "We were talking about the different things that are a no-no that have been happening. I do not even need to say it, but our president is a no-no. "This conversation led directly to" A No No, "which transforms the rhythm of Lil Kim's lustful" Crush on You "into a vehicle for a short reproach of a "snake in the grass".
Carey's gift for concise and penetrating phrases also led to "GTFO", another brilliant song about the exile of a former insensitive. "I just came in and tried to see where I could fit into their process," recalls Bourelly, one of the co-writers of the track. "She had her wine there, her notebook there, I usually write in the microphone, just freestyling, with her I was writing my words, pen and paper, then we came and went in two microphones, that was iconic, when she sang, & # 39; what about if you take the shit away? # It was crazy to hear Mariah so fabulous but with so much ratchet at the same time.
The stereotypes Jonathan Yip started "Stay Long Love You" in the same way. "Charm and Ray were working on the track. [in Michael Jackson’s favorite room in Westlake Studios]"She gave me the microphone, I hold it in the center of the room and we started singing some melodies," she recalls. "It's just her and she's coming up with concepts." I'm thinking, "Am I really looking at Mariah Carey and singing right now?"
The additional song of Japanese edition "Runway" was another spontaneous creation of study. During a session with Carey, producers Lido and Skrillex "left the room for a second like this, we should do something new and see what happens," says Lido. "I literally recorded the chords on my phone: I've been doing it a lot, recording chords on a phone, spinning it, testing it, things sound very strong, I like the compressor on the iPhone, we brought it back to the room and Immediately we realized that it was a vibe, we played chords and we threw them at Mariah, creating from scratch. "
Not everything that ended up in Caution It was so inopportune. "The Distance", a tremendously deep R & B ballad, began when Lido and Skrillex were in the studio in Las Vegas. Lido focused on "melodies and harmonies," he says, while Skrillex managed "sound design and merging everything."
CautionThe main song was started in the home studio of Luca Polizzi in Canada. "I wanted to do something a little different [than the rap tracks I usually make], so I wrote something Latin with flamenco guitars, "he says." It felt like it had the palette of being a pop song, the chords would allow someone to sing on it, or it could have had someone rapping. [a co-producer] He passed by the house; I said, 'Hey, I have this loop, are you interested in playing with it? & # 39; " SLMN added percussion and brought the song to No ID, a veteran producer of Jay-Z, Nas and many more, who helped track Carey. "In my opinion, it was the final cut [added] at the 11th hour, "adds Polizzi." The album was originally going to be called Proceed with caution. "
Although Skrillex has been working with more pop acts lately (Fifth Harmony, Justin Bieber), it's still an unexpected presence on Carey's album; she usually works with hip-hop and R & B artists. "He seemed to want to enter his world, and vice versa, it was a great musical marriage, so to speak," says Lewis, the A & R. "And the result was one of the most progressive R & B you're going to hear right now."
Like Skrillex, many collaborators showed a willingness to transform Caution. Take Carey's duet partner to "The Distance", Ty Dolla $ ign, known for his blunt and enthusiastic reports from the front line of the individual domes, possibly presenting the toughest verse of his career. The same goes for Bourelly writing his letters with pencil and paper. They are playing in Mariah-land, instead of the other way around.
After regaining control, the results were a return to form for Carey. "It was very classic Mariah, "says Romulus happily." It felt like part 2 of Emancipation of Mimi. "