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The Emancipation of Mimi is the fourteenth album and ninth studio album by American singer Mariah Carey.

It was released in the United States by Island Def Jam Records on April 12 2005 and, accompanied by generally positive reviews, debuted at number one with the highest first-week sales of Carey's career. It has been certified six times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA), and is Carey's best-selling in the U.S. since Daydream 1995. It was the biggest selling album of 2005 according to Nielsen SoundScan, and it won a 2006 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album.

The album has produced seven singles — "It's like That", which reached the top twenty of the Billboard Hot 100; "We Belong Together", her sixteenth U.S. number-one single; the number two single "Shake It Off"; "Get Your Number" (featuring Jermaine Dupri), a top ten single in the UK; "Don't Forget About Us", her seventeenth U.S. number-one; "Fly like a Bird"; and "Say Somethin'". A song which appears on the re-release of the album, a duet with rapper Twista entitled "So Lonely", has been released by Twista. The album focuses on several R&B-related genres, ranging from 1970s retro soul to quiet storm, gospel, and others.

Writing and recording[edit | edit source]

While on her Charmbracelet tour in early 2004, Carey began to write songs for her next album. As her previous mentor, Lyor Cohen, had left Island/Def Jam for Warner Brothers Records, Antonio "L.A." Reid replaced him. Some critics predicted a comeback, as Reid was known as a successful mentor for Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Usher. Some skeptics pointed out that Reid's comeback attempt for Whitney Houston with 2002's Just Whitney, Toni Braxton's More Than a Woman, and TLC's 3D had performed dismally on the charts. Others considered Carey a has-been in the wake of the failure of her two previous albums, and some even advised her to retire.

Kanye West, The Neptunes and James "Big Jim" Wright[edit | edit source]

For the first song, Carey turned to Kanye West. Carey had known him for years but had never collaborated with him. Her album Glitter (2001) had featured 1980s music inappropriate for West's style, and time conflicts prevented them from working together on Charmbracelet (2002). Carey and West began to work melodic ideas over an instrumental track by West that sampled "Betcha by Golly Wow", and Carey discovered that the song they had written (titled "Stay the Night") was in a complex key signature and would need a lot of belting. She decided to keep the key. Carey has described the song as very "much a vocal performance ... but it's organic to the song and to the nature of the feeling we were going for. It's kind of like giving you an old-schoolish, Jackson 5-type vibe, so I was happy with that".

Carey had for years also known and wanted to work with The Neptunes (Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams), a production duo who allow artists to co-write with them but not to co-produce, as they believe they have a unique balance of production that is disturbed by others. Carey reluctantly decided to give up her production rights for the first time in fourteen years, and one of the songs spawned from this partnership was "Say Somethin'". While at the recording studio, Carey discovered that rapper Snoop Dogg (who had previously collaborated with Carey on her 2000 single "Crybaby") was working in the next room, and she invited him to rap/sing on the record. "Say Somethin'" was originally slated to be one of the first singles from the album, but Carey did not feel comfortable with its release, often describing the song as "very Pharrell". But she maintained that its composition was "just a really cool experience ... he took me to a different place than I wouldn't naturally go". Carey and The Neptunes also created "To the Floor", which Carey does not mention in her interviews except to say that rapper Nelly was in a recording studio next to her and came over to record vocals for it. The song leaked onto the internet under the name "Tonight".

Carey had worked regularly with writing partners Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (a.k.a. Flyte Time) since Rainbow (1999). Despite poor reviews and sales of the Carey albums they had contributed to, she wanted to work with them again. As no time could be arranged for the three to meet, they sent their junior partner, James "Big Jim" Wright, to work with Carey. Wright, the junior partner of Flyte Time, had co-produced and co-wrote a few songs on Carey's previous albums with Jam and Lewis, but this was the first time he was her main creative partner. Although Carey had previously worked with live instruments before, she had never explored their use. With Wright, she decided to create a song using no synthesisers, but instead with live instruments and background vocals that gave "an old-school type vibe ... that organic kind of feel, like basically we were going for a somewhat retro, urban record that wasn't overly produced". As with that song (which was titled "Circles"), Carey recorded the track "I Wish You Knew" with live instruments, but sung off riffs of live guitars and other instruments. A "live" audience and spoken section was added to the song as Carey, who felt that the track was very similar to "Circles", wanted to evoke "old-school kind of Diana Ross moments, of like a live concert where she'll just break down a song and start talking".

Before Carey and Wright called it a night, Carey devised the main melody and lyrics of the chorus of the gospel-influenced "Fly like a Bird", while Wright laid down the song's chord structure. Carey, who asked her pastor, Clarence Keaton, to speak on the track, named the song as her favourite from the album. She believed that the song's spiritual message was "really important to include on the album", and chose it as the album's closing track because she felt "it kind of leaves you on a spiritual high moment".

Scram Jones, James Poyser, The Legendary Trackster and Swizz Beatz[edit | edit source]

With some tracks finished, Carey decided to visit rapper N.O.R.E. at a recording studio, where his relatively unknown producer Scram Jones was present. Jones, aware of Carey's pursuit of "hot beats", got together with her for "Your Girl", which uses an excerpt of New Zealand's R&B duo Adeaze's song "A Life with You" (providing the background ostinato vocals). As Jones is N.O.R.E's producer, the original version of "Your Girl" featured a rap by N.O.R.E. Carey characterised the song as "one of those happy, uptempo records but it's still giving you kind of, very thugged out moments cause that's kinda, Scram Jones' thing", adding that "most of my friends who are singers really love [it]".

As she had done with Wright, Carey wanted to explore music with R&B roots that were organic, yet soulful. She exchanged riffs with songwriter and producer James Poyser at the piano until "Mine Again" was born. Carey declared the song "the power ballad of this record ... it's a very big vocal moment, a big vocal performance ... one of those kind of like, break your heart songs, make you get together with your ex". While recording the song "One and Only" with The Legendary Traxster, Carey discovered that it was originally used as a "practice track" from rapper Twista, and invited Twista himself to rap/sing on the song. Carey said the song "happened to be in that kind of fast singing rhythmic style just naturally because that's kind of where the beat was taking me", and commented "I was so happy that [Twista]'s on it because I'm a really big fan of his. I think his style is amazing." Carey collaborated with producer Swizz Beatz, who had worked with Carey on rapper Jay-Z's song "Things That U Do" (on which Carey had been a featured artist), on "Secret Love". The song did not make the original album cut, but has been released as a bonus track in Japan.

Jermaine Dupri, Bryan Michael Cox, Manuel Seal and LRoc[edit | edit source]

Carey flew down to Atlanta to work with best friend (and creative partner of over ten years) Jermaine Dupri. To start off, Dupri produced an instrumental track that sounded similar to Usher's "Confessions Part II" (2004), and Carey began singing melodies over the beat and writing lyrics to accompany it. Dupri then suggested for the song's hook "I gotta get away", but Carey thought the song would be better with the lyrics "I gotta shake it off". Carey said the song "Shake It Off" is "definitely one of my favorite songs...when you're going through some drama, and you just wanna get through it, you put that song on and it just takes you out of whatever mood you're in." Carey heard an instrumental track Dupri had created for his forthcoming album that sampled "Just an Illusion" by Imagination, and Dupri asked her to sing her version of the song. Carey was reluctant to create another song that used a sample, and it was felt that her vocals lacked something that Dupri's had. Carey then decided to make a duet with Dupri singing the chorus and her speaking/rapping the verse, thus creating "Get Your Number". Carey said, "a lot of people like it cause it's very, giving you kind of like a 'Fantasy' type-feeling."

With two songs co-written and co-produced with Dupri and her album nearly complete, Carey seemed satisfied with her output. Though "Say Somethin'" had been selected as the album's first single, Antonio Reid sent Carey back to Atlanta. The club scene of the city inspired "It's like That", and Carey said "I just wanted a record that was really fun, really like for the clubs and just for the people who were getting ready to go out at night; one of those really let-your-hair-down, just have a good time, this is my night type of thing". Carey was criticised for the song's references to alcohol and drugs, but she maintained that they were mere jokes. The song's hook, "it's like that y'all", is borrowed from a 1984 Run-D.M.C. track, "Hollis Crew", showing the influence of old school hip hop on Carey's 2005 sound. Two songs were written on Carey's second journey back to Atlanta, the second being "We Belong Together". Carey, who has described the song as "'Anytime You Need a Friend' meets 'Breakdown'", felt it was "a really heartfelt ballad that I think people can really relate to, even though it's like a very specific story, I think that everybody can probably apply it to their own lives."

Mahogany, Young Genius, and R. Kelly[edit | edit source]

Carey worked with the experienced, but relatively low profile, producer and writer Mahogany on two tracks. The first, "Sprung", uses robotic voices and "chipmunk" vocals and was left off the U.S. version of the album, but is a bonus track elsewhere. ("Sprung" was later included on a separate disc in a Target Stores exclusive version of the album's re-release.) "When I Feel It", the second song, was originally announced as track thirteen on the album, but Carey and her record company were denied clearance for a sample used in the song. With only weeks before the album was to be released, Carey did not have time to re-record the song properly without the sample, and had no choice but to exclude it. A snippet of a cell phone recording of the song leaked onto the internet in early 2005.

Carey had recorded several songs that would not make the album, but as "Sprung" and "Secret Love" were already earmarked for bonus tracks, she chose to replace the now-illegal "When I Feel It" with "Joy Ride". The song was co-written and co-produced with fifteen year-old Young Genius, whom Carey could relate to as she started writing and producing at around his age. As it was not originally meant to be used on the album, part of the track had been misplaced, and the song could only be mixed down to two tracks. As each layer of a song should be mixed individually, technical issues arose, but Carey said "it really didn't matter because he had such a great sound and everything. It was so well done in the first place that I was happy just to mix the vocals and call it a day". She categorised the song as "a ballad... they call it the baby-making song of the record. I don't use that terminology, but they can call it the baby-making song if they want!"

Carey has great respect for other singer/songwriter/producers such as Beyoncé Knowles and R. Kelly, and contacted Kelly to co-write and co-produce songs with her. The two of them bounced around some ideas, but after a while realized that they were incompatible, and no work came of their sessions together.

Overall, the album has fewer songs with rappers than some of Carey's previous albums: it only features four, of whom three sing (not rap) most of their parts. Many of the songs had rap sections cut; for example, N.O.R.E was supposed to be featured on "Your Girl", and Ludacris on "Stay the Night". Whereas Carey is known for her bridges and breaks, songs such as "It's Like That", "We Belong Together", "Stay the Night", "Shake It Off", and "Your Girl" lack bridges. Carey uses non-synthesized instruments more than before; although she had previously experimented with them on songs such as "Subtle Invitation" and the single version of "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" (both from Charmbracelet), this is the first time they are so prominent on a studio album.

Promotion[edit | edit source]

The failure of Carey's previous two albums had been partly attributed to inadequate promotional tours. With this in mind, Carey changed her personal manager to Benny Medina and hired Marvet Britto as her new publicist. Whereas the campaign for her previous studio album concentrated on her alleged nervous breakdown, the marketing for The Emancipation of Mimi attempted to arouse curiosity about the album's title. Carey said that the word "emancipation" referred to the freedom from her ex-husband, Tommy Mottola, which contrasted with the promotion for her three previous studio albums since her divorce, as she had never previously spoken in great detail about it (though a gag order had prevented her from talking about the marriage for a few years). Carey also explained that "Mimi" is a nickname previously used only by close friends and relatives, adding that she wanted the title of the album to be "representative of where I'm at as an artist.... This is the fun side, the real me, and not the image and the baggage that comes with the whole 'Mariah Carey' thing". On the radio show The Wendy Williams Experience, her former best friend Brenda K. Starr said that "Mimi" was a fake nickname and that Carey was surrounded by "phonies".

Promotion for the album began outside of North America, during which she performed "It's Like That" on several European television programmes, including the UK's Top of the Pops. Later, she made guest appearances on U.S. radio and television shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Wendy Williams Experience. U.S. promotion of the album intensified in the run-up to its release, and included a performance on VH1's Save the Music Concert, as well as a high-profile mini-concert on the daytime television show Good Morning America, for which part of Times Square in New York City was closed off. On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Carey gained additional publicity because of the lesbian undertones expressed by host Ellen DeGeneres. She also surprised viewers when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, having once vowed never again to go on the show after Leno joked about her personal and professional struggles. Carey performed in the UK at Live 8 on July 2 2005, after which sales of "We Belong Together" and the album increased. She cancelled the remainder of her UK schedule when "We Belong Together" failed to reach number one there, though later apologised. A wardrobe malfunction during a concert in Germany generated further publicity for Carey and the album.

Album packaging and design[edit | edit source]

The packaging and design of some of Carey's previous albums such as Rainbow, in which she can be seen jumping in her underwear and lying in a bed in an erotic fashion, had led some critics to label her a promiscuous woman. In contrast, the design for the Charmbracelet album did not show Carey's figure at all. For The Emancipation of Mimi, Carey contacted the studio of Markus Klinko, intending the album's artwork to retain her sex appeal but present a more mature image.

At a fan meet-and-greet before the album's release, one fan commented that Carey, whose skin appeared darker than normal on its cover, looked like R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles on the cover. Carey did not want the public to think that she was trying to copy Knowles, and a limited edition digipak of the album was ordered. For its cover, an image of Carey from the original album photoshoot was used, but more close up than the previous cover, and with her natural skin color. The digipak also used a new style of pressing to give the physical case a unique glare. Unlike the original album (with a booklet insert), the digipak's insert is a poster showing the original album cover.

Reception[edit | edit source]

The Emancipation of Mimi has been one of Carey's most well-received albums in years. Critics tend to agree that her previous albums — the soundtrack album Glitter (2001) and studio album Charmbracelet (2002) — were generally uninspired, and have hailed The Emancipation of Mimi as a return to form.

The album and its tracks were nominated for eight Grammy Awards, [1] the most nominations that Carey had ever received in one year:

  • Album of the Year — awarded to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2.
  • Best Contemporary R&B Album — won.
  • Record of the Year ("We Belong Together") — awarded to "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day.
  • Song of the Year ("We Belong Together") — awarded to "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" by U2.
  • Female Pop Vocal Performance ("It's Like That") — awarded to "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson.
  • Female R&B Vocal Performance ("We Belong Together") — won.
  • Traditional R&B Vocal Performance ("Mine Again") — awarded to "A House Is Not a Home" by Aretha Franklin.
  • R&B Song ("We Belong Together") — won.

The album ranked number nine on Billboard magazine's 2005 "Critics' & Artists' Choice" list, and it was chosen as one of's Top 100 Editor's Picks of 2005.

Chart performance[edit | edit source]

In its first week of release, The Emancipation of Mimi sold 403,755 copies in the U.S. (according to Nielsen SoundScan]]), the highest first-week sales of Carey's career. It debuted at number-one on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart, becoming Carey's fifth number-one album and her third album to debut at number one. Week-to-week decreases in sales of the album were small, and there were occasional increases. It remained in the top twenty of the chart for forty-five weeks, briefly returning to number one in its eighth week of release. After forty-six weeks of release, it is still on the Billboard 200. On the World Top 50 Chart, the album debuted at number eighteen, and ascended to number-one in its third week (with roughly 617,900 copies sold during that week), where it stayed for two weeks. It spent a total of twenty-two weeks in the top ten of the chart, and has sold over 9.6 million copies worldwide to date. It also reached number two on the Canadian charts, number seven on the UK charts and number six on the Australian charts.

In the U.S., The Emancipation of Mimi has outlasted albums released at around the same time and even later, many of which had left the top fifty while Mimi was still in the top five. It reached number-one positions on Billboard magazine's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart (for five weeks) and the Comprehensive Albums chart (for two weeks), and number three on the Internet Albums chart. Nielsen SoundScan figures reported that 5,601,918 copies of the album had been sold by May 24 2006, and it was the best-selling album of 2005 in the U.S. In the last full week of the year the album outsold 50 Cent's The Massacre, which was released six weeks before The Emancipation of Mimi and had sold more than 2.9 million copies before Mimi went on sale. It was the first album by a solo female artist to become the year's best-selling album since Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill in 1996. [2] It is Carey's most successful album in the U.S. since Daydream (1995), which sold over seven and a half million copies (and 9.882 million if record club sales are included) in the U.S.

"It's like That" was the first single from the album, and reached the top twenty in the U.S. and the top ten in several other countries. It was far more successful than the singles from Carey's previous two albums. "We Belong Together" the album's second single, became one of the biggest hits of Carey's career and the biggest song of 2005 in the U.S., staying at number one for fourteen weeks. It also peaked at number one in several other countries. "Shake It Off" was the third single, and reached number two in the U.S. It was a double A-side release with "Get Your Number" in the UK and Australia, where it reached the top ten. "Don't Forget About Us", the album's fourth single, became Carey's seventeenth number-one hit in the U.S., tying her with Elvis Presley for the most U.S. number-one singles by a solo artist according to Billboard magazine's revised methodology. "Say Somethin'" and "Fly like a Bird" were released as the album's fifth and sixth U.S. singles in April 2006: "Say Somethin'" was solicited to to Top 40/Rhythmic radio formats, while "Fly like a Bird" went to Urban formats.

"Mine Again" was not released as a single in the U.S., but it charted on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks (for about ten weeks) and peaked at seventy-three; and on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay where it reached sixty-nine.

Re-release[edit | edit source]

Although the re-release of the album was originally supposed to be a DualDisc, that was cancelled and it was re-released in the United States on November 15 2005 in two non DualDisc formats: one with four bonus tracks not on the original release, and the other with these and also a bonus DVD. The latter is a limited edition release. The formal name of the re-release is The Emancipation of Mimi: Ultra Platinum Deluxe Edition.

The re-release includes three entirely new songs: "Don't Forget About Us", produced by Jermaine Dupri; "Makin' It Last All Night (What It Do)" also produced and featuring Dupri; and "So Lonely (One & Only Part II)", a duet with Twista produced by Rodney Jerkins aka "Darkchild". Although "So Lonely" is also on Twista's 2005 album The Day After, Carey's version of the song features an additional verse written by her. The re-release also contains the DJ Clue produced remix of "We Belong Together", which features Styles P. and Jadakiss. Although the remix was released on iTunes, it had never been retailed in the U.S. as a CD.

Jermaine Dupri had announced that a charity single he had been producing to help victims of Hurricane Katrina would be included on the re-release, and the remix of "Shake It Off" featuring Jay-Z and Young Jeezy, which is only available on iTunes, was also initially reported to be on the album. The official reasons for the exclusion of the two songs were not made public. Reportedly Carey wanted to include more than three new tracks on the album, but Billboard magazine's rules limit the number of new songs on re-releases to three (the re-release would chart as a separate entry on the Billboard 200 if more were included).

The re-release also includes the music videos for the album's then-released singles: "It's like That", "We Belong Together", "Shake It Off", and "Get Your Number". The "Get Your Number" video was previously unreleased in North America. Although Carey wanted to include the "Don't Forget About Us" video on the DVD as well, time constraints in production and mastering of the DVD prevented this. However, a link was included on the DVD-ROM portion of the DVD to access the music video. An exclusive interview entitled "Mariah in Her Own Words" can also be accessed through a link on the DVD.

Following the re-release of the album, it returned to the U.S. top five with sales that week of 182,873 copies, and the album has since sold well over a million more copies.

Track listing and credits[edit | edit source]

  • U.S. edition

Released on April 12 2005. All songs co-written by Mariah Carey and all except "Say Somethin'" and "To the Floor" co-produced by Carey; names of other writers and/or producers are in brackets.

  1. "It's like That" (Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal, Johnta Austin) — 3:23
  2. "We Belong Together" (Dupri, Seal, Johnta Austin) — 3:21
  3. "Shake It Off" (Dupri, Bryan Michael Cox, Austin) — 3:52
  4. "Mine Again" (James Poyser) — 4:01
  5. "Say Somethin'" featuring Snoop Dogg (Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, Snoop Dogg) — 3:44
  6. "Stay the Night" (Kanye West) — 3:57
  7. "Get Your Number" featuring Jermaine Dupri (Dupri, Cox) — 3:15
  8. "One and Only" feat. Twista (The Legendary Traxster) — 3:14
  9. "Circles" (James Wright) — 3:30
  10. "Your Girl" (Scram Jones) — 2:46
  11. "I Wish You Knew" (Wright) — 3:34
  12. "To the Floor" featuring Nelly (Williams, Hugo, Nelly) — 3:27
  13. "Joy Ride" (Young Genius) — 4:03
  14. "Fly like a Bird" (Wright) — 3:53
  • Ultra Platinum Deluxe Edition

Released in the U.S. on November 15 2005.

15. "Don't Forget About Us" — 3:53
16. "Makin' It Last All Night (What It Do)" featuring Jermaine Dupri — 3:51
17. "So Lonely" with Twista — 3:53
18. "We Belong Together" (remix) featuring Jadakiss and Styles P. — 4:28
  • DVD side
1. "It's like That" (video)
2. "We Belong Together" (video)
3. "Shake It Off" (video)
4. "Get Your Number" (video)
  • Non-U.S. edition

Released on April 4 2005.

15. "Sprung" (Mahogany) — 3:26
  • Japanese edition

Released on March 30 2005.

15. "Sprung" (Mahogany) — 3:26
16. "Secret Love" (Swizz Beatz) — 3:09
  • Ultra Platinum Deluxe Edition (Japanese Edition)

Released on November 15 2005.

Pictures [edit | edit source]

These photos were tooken directly from this site:  

References[edit | edit source]

15. "Sprung" — 3:26
16: "Secret Love" — 3:09
17. "Don't Forget About Us" — 3:53
18. "Makin' It Last All Night (What I Do)" featuring Jermaine Dupri — 3:51
19. "So Lonely" with Twista — 3:53
20. "We Belong Together" (remix) featuring Jadakiss and Styles P. — 4:28
  • DVD side
1. "It's like That" (video)
2. "We Belong Together" (video)
3. "Shake It Off" (video)
4. "Get Your Number" (video)
5. "Don't Forget About Us" (video)

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