Monday, April 14, 2008

Rhythmic Review: Mariah Carey - E=Mc2

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Its no secret that Mariah has always been one to embrace the extremes of musical genres when it comes to her albums, whether it was pop on her '94 album Music box or with hip hop on her 1998 album Rainbow. Carey has always been capable of honing in on one specific genre moderately well, but it hasn't always been whats best for her, simply being able to do something isn't reason enough to do it. Mariah has shined when she combines all of the genres shes dabbled in through out her career into 1 cohesive album that hits on all levels, much like she did with, arguably one of her best albums, 1998's Butterfly and most recently with 05's Emancipation of Mimi. Its been apparent that since '95s Daydream (when Mariah really started broadening her musical horizon) that with more options musically came more chances for confusion and stumbles. One amazing album always seemed to be followed by a less than stellar or down right horrible effort. After dabbling with a more urban sound on Daydream and the remixes stemmed from, she upped the ante and came with a brilliant and well balanced mixture of the mainstream safe sound she was known for and the hiphop spice that Daydream merely played with and it WORKED on 1998's Butterfly. After Butterfly came Rainbow, which seemed to take all the good aspects of Butterfly and ran them into the GROUND. Groovy urban head nodding jams turned into bass bumping headache inducing annoyances that made NO SENSE coming from Mariah....

If it ain't broke, add a bunch of new shit to it and UPGRADE IT! EMBELLISH EMBELLISH EMBELLISH! seems to be the motto of Mariah Carey, I'm sure that's the drag queen in her coming out but damn, just because a certain something works once doesn't mean you beat us over the head with it for the second time around, someone read the definition of overkill to this woman please!

This brings me to E=Mc2!!! Mariahs 11th studio album that comes 3 years after THE comeback album to end all comeback albums, 3 time Grammy award winning, 6 million copy selling The Emancipation of Mimi. Much like the fate Rainbow suffered, Mc2 is nothing more than the overkill and sad attempts of what was successful from its predecessor. "We Belong Together" was the break out hit from Emancipation, so I'm going to give you 1 guess at what a few tracks from this album resembles... you've got it! The essence of "We Belong Together" can be heard in the sombre bids "I Stay In Love," "Love Story," and "Last Kiss". In all defense, Jermaine Dupri produced all of these tracks, with the exception of "I Stay In love" (that was produced by Brian "1 trick pony" Michael-Cox). Jermaine also did We Belong Together and I suppose its only right these songs all leave the same taste in your mouth, when you can just hear Mariah in the studio saying "DO WHAT YOU DID BEFORE JERMAINE! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!..BUT YANNO..EMBELLISH!!!" even "Cruise Control" jogs the mind of a lazier and slightly unattractive version of "Shake it Off."

The few saving graces on the album come from the tracks that are clearly out of place. The smart and sassy "Im That Chick", produced by Stargate (Beyonce, Neyo,Chrisbrown) gives a 70's soul/dance feel and makes you wonder why Mariah isn't doing more stuff like this, it was clear with "Stay the Night" from the emancipation that this road is one that needs to be tread more often. It allows Mariah to be playful, fun, coy and sassy without coming off as a 30 something akwardly trying to recapture her tweens as she does way too often.

The Swizz Beatz produced "O.O.C." (Out of Control) is a hypnotic and mellow summer track that would have been a nice intermission from vocal heavy tracks, if yanno... Mariah would have put any on the album, while "I'll be loving you Long Time" shines merely from the Debarge track that it samples.

And while I hate to admit it, "Migrate" has grown on me through leaps and bounds. Are the lyrics "Speed dial connecting me to Rae-Rae, Click in Shawntae and Mae-Mae" silly? yes, but are they anymore profound than "Them Chickens is ash and I'm lotion" from "Its like that"? no. Once I heard the cd quality of the song on a sound system, like intended, I began to appreciate it for what it was, A mindless club banger.

As nice as it would be to say these tracks save the album; cuts like "Side effects" featuring Young Jeezy cant help but make you want to slap Mariah upside her head and break all of her heels. The song wouldn't be tolerable in the hands of an artist with the lowest of expectations, let alone a legend like Mariah thats capable of MUCH MUCH better, and sadly enough that can be said for majority of this entire album. Even though "Side effects" deals with personal issues that surrounded her marriage to Tommy Matolla, all potential retrospective artistry is killed by the unfitting production (nobodys tryna ghost ride the whip while listening to how Tommy use to Ike your ass Mariah...and I wont even get into how random the AH HA'S and other pointless adlibs from Young Jeezy further hender the track). If Emancipation made her the down chick in touch with the urban community than E=Mc2 makes her the slutty chick that gives it up in the restroom at house parties.

Dont get me wrong, PLEASE DONT, I consider myself a HUGE Mariah Carey fan, owning every album from her debut to The Emancipation and everything inbetween, but even this album has me scratching my head and asking myself, Did I miss something? the transition from her last album to this one is non existent. This effort would have been much more convincing if it came BEFORE the emancipation during a time she was still trying to find her footing after 2 commercial failures.

While many refer to her as Mariah "Black for the remix" Carey, I like to think of her as Mariah "dumb for the airplay" Carey. Majority of this album will be eaten up by radio and the boppers, snappers and teens that it caters to, the same people that probably don't even remember a Mariah pre Rainbow, or care for a Mariah DURING Glitter ... and that's the sad part. Growth of an artist usually captures a brand new audience without alienating those that have helped you get to where you are and those that have stuck with you during periods that you like to forget about yourself, or simply pass off as soundtracks (bullshit). Butterfly, Emancipation and Daydream are praised as fan and critic favorites for balancing all that Mariah is capable of effortlessly and Proving that, with her magnitude of talent, she IS capable of being a little bit of everything to everyone, now can someone please tap her on the shoulder and let her know that for me...

Good ISN'T good when BETTER is expected and for that..
I give E=Mc2 a D+

In Stores Now!!!!!!!!

Agree with me? let me know! if u absolutely disagree and think im on something? let me kno that too! hit up the comment section and share!!!!...remember, sharing is caring!


Anonymous said...

You are in the minority on this one. Critics are RAVING over this album, even EW giving it an A- which is unheard of for them. This album really showcases the real Mariah, and Side Effects is HANDS DOWN the BEST song on the whole CD (and almost every critic agrees). It's got an unstoppable beat, and Mariah touches on the marriage to Mottola for the first time in her career. This CD is a reflection of the old, new, and inbetween Mariah we have all come to love and appreciate.

QH said...

Despite the idiot above you, minority or majority isn't the issue, what was said is correct.

Davion, you & I get it because as stated we've been with MC through it all, including periods where it wasn't "in" to like her, but we stuck with her.

It is frustrating to see someone like Carey with all the potential continue to squander it on such unmemorable material. Hopefully, this will take her to new space creatively. I am actually looking forward to seeing what her next album sounds like in two years. Good job here.-QH

Tha Connoisseur said...

Hey sweets, I loved the review and totally agree with you. It really comes down to the album being exactly what you said - a piece of mediocrity that could be MUCH better from an artist of her calibre. I am sorry but as a critic, I obviously have to keep in mind that just because I say that it sucks, doesn't mean that the next person will think the same. So a message to Mr. Anonymous - just because critics are RAVING about it, doesn't mean that it's the shit. If someone tells you to jump, do you ask "how high",,.I hope that your above entry is more about your word about the album and not what you read from the RAVING CRITCS.

Fan first, critic second.


Tha Connoisseur said...

Sorry, for the spelling mistakes. Yes I am that anal I had to leave a message! I am tired and recovering from a FIRE last night.



Anonymous said...

If you were a real Mariah fan, then you would know that her "urban" sound and hip-hop influences have been around since her first album where she raps (though not well) on a song "Prisoner". I hate it when people say "oh Mariah's gone all hip-hop on us now". No, she really hasn't. It's just that now she has the freedom to sound the way she wants to sound.

RhythmicSoul said...

Im fully aware of "prisoner"..but mumbling a few bars didnt exactly make her lauryn hill, there for i wouldnt really consider that album being one to refer to when it comes to Mariah and pen pointing when she fully embraced the urban sound, but cool u brought ur knowledge of MIMI to the forefront, gold star to you...I never said within my review that shes ALL HIP HOP ON US NOW, i said she's excessively using whats worked in the past (which has happened to be hiphop influences) and overdoing it in a way that overshadows her BRILLIANT vocals and writing capability. Like i said in my review, its WORKED FOR HER BEFORE in butterfly and emancipation, but to a certain and tasteful degree that still let her showcase her pipes and meaningful material...even with this album, songs that could have came off ground breaking Mariah material (side effects, anyone?) came off silly.

Anonymous said...

No, I totally hear you. I just feel like this really is the real her on this album, whether we like it or not. I feel like if it was up to her and she had the complete freedom to sound however she wanted since day one, E=mc2 is what her sound would have been.
By the way, have you heard the bonus track "Heat"?
Sample lyric:
"You think I won't come out these heels
And make it clear
I ain't the one
You think I won't f**k up my hair
And take it there
I ain't the one"
Yikes. A far cry from "..dreamlover, come rescue me".

S. Flemming said...

Nice write-up. (On a side note, I am STILL laughing at "coochie coupons" LOL!) Anyway, your last few comments pretty much sum up my issue with her. Her need to dumb her shit down is the reason it's been more than a decade since I put down money for one of her albums. Once she started doing a mix for black radio and a mix for pop radio during my high school days (and in some cases a whole different video) it was a wrap for me. I was insulted by that ... I mean they have to do what they have to do to make that paper, but damn. That always bothered me. I felt like her songs were fine like they were, but she was, as you wrote, dumbing them down. I have heard this album and I do like the ballads, but those fast cuts are not the correct answer. I just don't think her voice or her persona are suited to that foolishness, and that's why she looked like a damn fool on SNL. Nonetheless, her stans will eat it up, so at the end of the day she's straight. Again, nice job, as always.

RhythmicSoul said...

I did hear "heat" and i was expecting more from a mariah and Wil.I.Am callabo..but i shouldnt have been surprised because he's only tolerable when he works with more SOUL sounds and that would have clashed with the mess on this album...i was just hoping he was gonna give mariah alil something like "lets rock" from chrisette michelle's album, wouldnt that have been AMAZING? ugh...but i totally agree with you..i honestly believe this is the "real" Mariah...underneath all the "vision of loves" and "dreamlovers" she was always a chicken head at heart.

Plopper N' H20 said...

Mariah has proven herself enough in the past. We all know the woman can sing, so why can't we accept her doing some fun stuff like on the new album? This type of music gets her paid! She's getting older and now is her time to bring in the final Benjamins. If you listen to her in interview, she says she has always loved hip-hop since childhood. I think her pop/hip-hop fusion helps non-urban radio realize that the kids who are the ones buying the albums are loving this and therefore, hip-hop created by Black people is not going away. I love Mariah for contributing to this. I really can't agree with Rhythmicsoul on this topic, especially since it took him having to listen to "Migrate" over and over to realize it was Hot! I knew it was Hot when she and T-Pain so fabulously entertained us with it on SNL.