Mariah Carey
The Emancipation of Mimi


4.0
excellent

Review

by Daniel Incognito EMERITUS
July 1st, 2006 | 61 replies | 13,247 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


It is hard not to lose track when counting the total number of hit singles Mariah Carey had throughout the 1990s. With a massive total of 15 #1 hits, and countless other Top-20 scorchers, Mariah Carey truly dominated the decade with unparalleled longevity. With a 5-octave vocal range, many could be forgiven for thinking her fall from grace would never come.

The Y2K bug may have been a bunch of garbage (aside from a few narrowly averted nuclear meltdowns in Japan), yet Mariah Carey felt the true punch of the new-millennium bug. With Glitter, Carey released one of the worst albums of the decade so far, taking her new Hip-Hop sound to disastrous lows. But rather than make a U-turn, Carey pushed on into the mist and released Charmbracelet which justifiably flopped with both her Hip-Hop youth and Adult Contemporary audiences. Much like many of the other stellar female pop vocalists of today, Carey suffered from inadequate production. Neither Virgin nor Island Records truly understood Carey's need to let her voice fly with Glitter and Charmbarcelet respectively.

It would be easy to be pessimistic about The Emancipation of Mimi considering it is produced by Island Records, creators of the dismal Charmbracelet. Yet from the first moment, a jump up in the production quality is evident. Where Charmbracelet would feel emotionless and undernourished, The Emancipation of Mimi feels vibrant, just like a true divalicious album. The same Hip-Hop style that she turned to late in the 90s is present. But where previous Carey albums would underemphasise the vocals when emphasis was needed, The Emancipation of Mimi makes subtle effects with purpose. The hit single Shake It Off is a terrific example of the newfound intelligent production. The Hip-Hop rhythm feels incredibly simplistic, with a basic keyboard pattern and light tap-drumming. Meanwhile Carey's vocals are made to carry the workload, and are only given the slight backing of a male guest vocal performance only adding sonic depth. Yet Carey huskily talks, whilst Carey herself is given the role of backing vocals, breaking into the upper registries. The combination of her vocals melismatically transcending through high-pitched notes then dropping back down to husky talking works exquisitely: Inspiring like only Carey can.

Carey's Hip-Hop fans certainly are given a treat with The Emancipation of Mimi. The amount and the quality of Hip-Hop based songs can be simply overwhelming. It's Like That offers another example of Carey taking the entire workload, and pulling it off with variety and a delicate touch. Much of the album features compulsory collaborations with male Hip-Hop artists. It isn't as though these men are slouches either, with Snoop Dogg, Twista and Jadakiss all appearing. Yet never do they overshadow Carey, only ever acting as the tomatoe sauce on the side of Carey's meal. It's Like That utilises the two featuring male vocalists as if it were a studio effect, having them act as reverb after Carey's vocals. Once again the rhythm merely drops away behind the vocals, maintaining continuity but not becoming a focus. On their own, the Hip-Hop beats of this album would seem entirely devoid of emotion and appeal. Yet never do they reach the trepid beats of Glitter and Charmbracelet. When looked at in comparison with the other areas of the album, the rhythms do hold back the album slightly. Thankfully though, the producers have had enough sense to take the focus entirely away from the rhythms.

What cannot be ignored is the sheer length of this album. Never do songs reach above the uniform pop length, yet with so many tracks, fillers would certainly become forgivable. The exact amount of fillers is debatable, but the quantity in regards to total track count is very small. Even at the end of the album the songs do not taper off, with a surprisingly good Hip-Hop remix of the single We Belong Together and more importantly a collaboration between Mariah Carey and Twista, So Lonely (One & Only Part II). As one of the highlights of the album, So Lonely utilises a production style similar to Kanye West. The beats stay irregular and as such, more interesting than any other beats on the album. Meanwhile Carey and Twista compete in a fast-paced duet, similar to that of Eminem and 50 Cent in Patiently Waiting. Carey's vocals soar to beautiful heights as the string instruments similarly fly. Each exchange provides brilliant contrast between husky softs and hasty rhymes.

Not content with just a few stunners, Island Records have packed in even more remarkable music. Fly Like A Bird provides both a nice break from the Hip-Hop overload, and also acts as an inspirational piece usually not seen in the mainstream. Many of Carey's critics argue that her vocals lack emotion, and this claim can be seen in previous Carey albums. Fly Like a Bird could be considered the counterargument to her critics' claims. In a passionate display of vocal excellence, Carey's vocals reach the height of angels, expressing the innermost of her feelings. Some will find Fly Like A Bird slightly overdone, but those that can appreciate it will hear one of the most emotionally inspiring songs of 2005.

As for the rest of the album, the emotion vs. technical ability is a bit of a mixed affair. In songs such as Mine Again and Stay The Night her vocals are varied, but are only done so for variation and vocal virtuosity. In other songs such as the previously mentioned Fly Like a Bird and We Belong Together, the vocal variation feels more heartfelt. Created through the heart, rather than the head. Perhaps as testament to this, We Belong Together held the number 1 position in the U.S. for 14 weeks, making it the biggest hit of 2005.

With the short memories of mainstream listeners, one must wonder how much of the album is new content. The Emancipation of Mimi never really goes anywhere outside the areas already explored by its predecessors. The argument that it has all been heard before could certainly be made, and really, it has.

But while the album may not head in any radical new directions, Mariah Carey instead went back to perfect what she had already laid the groundwork for. Her revival has been made with a bang, fun and vibrant at times then emotionally potent the next. Carey's detractors will not be converted with The Emancipation of Mimi. But with the subtle improvements in production quality, and purpose, The Emancipation of Mimi offers a delicious return to form. Outside the cynics in life, most will find Carey's return to form to be an example of newfound maturity, returned purpose and most of all, an album that truly harnesses the extraordinary voice of Mariah Carey. The Emancipation of Mimi may not be the best album of 2005, yet as a Pop album it rightfully dominated the charts like only a Diva could.



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user ratings (65)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
July 1st 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Note: This review was of the Bonus Tracks version, the original version does not feature tracks #15-18. As advice, I highly recommend buying the bonus tracks version over the original due to the high quality of the bonus tracks.

Zebra
Moderator
July 1st 2006


2647 Comments


I've never thought much of Mariah Carey, or this style of music for that matter. I find it strange that Snoop Dogg would appear on this album, it just doesn't seem that fitting. Great work on the review as usual although I was hoping for some Tangerine Dream or ambient

Oddsen
July 1st 2006


1127 Comments


I've heard all the singles off this and she seems pretty good.

JohnXDoesn't
July 1st 2006


1279 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a rich, sexy woman. I want her bad....

But um, yeah. The review...Um, I liked it. Think you got it pretty right on. I don't listen to her, but a girl I know who gave me a ride to work and home for a week does. And man if I didn't hear this thing for almost two hours each day going to and fro. Never liked the stuff I heard before. But she has developed and some of this shi is funky as hell. Not my thing, but I know a good thing when I hear it.....and when I see it This Message Edited On 07.01.06

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2006


16088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Woot my faux-request made it through.
I actually like this album quite a bit. The only one I'm able to sit all the way through.

pulseczar
July 1st 2006


2385 Comments


It's nice to her successful and balanced again, but I like my women really fucking crazy. Sorry, Mariah, it's over.
Great review, but I still need your email to send you some Genesis.

south_of_heaven 11
July 1st 2006


5433 Comments


Sorry, Mariah, it's over.

Well, (slicks back hair and puts on a polo shirt) your loss buddy.

The Jungler
July 2nd 2006


4827 Comments


This is a rich, sexy woman. I want her bad....

Can it be said any better?
Mariah is a great singer, she did great on all the singles and seeing as though they make up half the album I will not be getting this. Great review Lib.
On a less related note, I can't stand Twista as a rapper (your mentioning him reignited my hate). He's got speed, but his style and delivery are bland. Not to mention the quality (or lack there of) in his lyrics and production. Once again, great review.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
July 2nd 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=JXD]The review...Um, I liked it[/quote]
Is the review just average in other words?

[quote=Zebra]Great work on the review as usual although I was hoping for some Tangerine Dream or ambient [/quote]
I've got two weeks of holidays, I'll get some ambient/electronic reviewed soon enough.

[quote=Pulseczar]Great review, but I still need your email to send you some Genesis.[/quote]
Whoops, /me posts it in the sput community thread.

[quote=VagueDan]On a less related note, I can't stand Twista as a rapper (your mentioning him reignited my hate). He's got speed, but his style and delivery are bland. Not to mention the quality (or lack there of) in his lyrics and production. Once again, great review[/quote]
I know what you mean. He is pretty average, but in So Lonely (One & Only Part II) and to a lesser extent One And Only, the contrast between Carey's vocals and Twista's fast punchy rhymes works well. Focus isn't really brought to his lyrics in the two songs he features in, and as such I think of him as 'vocal percussion'.

morrissey
Moderator
July 2nd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Monster review, great work Lib. I've only heard the singles but she has a monster voice, it's quite something. I prefered it more when she was doing straight up pop ballads but based on what I've heard she seems to have struck a good balance between the light R&B/hip-hop stuff and pop.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
July 2nd 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Monster review, great work Lib.

You've said that in a few of my reviews. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

"Freshly Baked"
July 2nd 2006


583 Comments


Every song I've heard off of this is really good. I never thought I'd see the day when this would be reviewed, but I'm glad it is.

For as much of a douche and bad rapper Jermaine Dupri is, the man is a good producer.

Rocksta71
July 2nd 2006


1023 Comments


I hate her soo much.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
July 2nd 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And yet you fail to comment on the album itself.

I ask you, how many songs off this have you heard? How much of a chance did you give the songs when listening to them for the first time? Why is the album so terrible as to deserve a rating of 1?

Rocksta71
July 2nd 2006


1023 Comments


I've heard every single (too many times)
I despise pop in general, I much prefer real music (rock)
I'm not dissing you or your review I just hate this woman.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 2nd 2006


17920 Comments


You shouldn't rate it unless you've heard the whole thing.

IMO, she has an amazing voice, but I don't really like the music all that much.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
July 2nd 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm not dissing you or your review

Ah yes yes, I do not take your rating personally. However I am offended by your attitude towards Mariah Carey.
I've heard every single (too many times)

Yes I'm sure you have, yet what must be taken into account is that there are only 4 singles. As only 22% of the album, they merely give a glimpse. Your view of the album is clearly shaky at best, and that isn't even taking account of your predisposed dislike for her.
I much prefer real music (rock)

Now I could go on and on as to how your opinion is clearly biased and an example of subjective opinion. Yet with this comment, your rating and your opinion should clearly be disregarded. Such statements only prove your ignorance.This Message Edited On 07.02.06

morrissey
Moderator
July 2nd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

When I say monster review it is a compliment. You go into great detail and obviously put a lot of thought and effort into analysing the album, rather than just giving it one spin and winging it, glazing over everything. Ya done good.

Rocksta71
July 2nd 2006


1023 Comments


I didnt mind her before this album came out, why the hell do some people have to take a comment a disect it and then try to prove a point, i merely stated my extreme dislike for this artist. If you want to post reviews then expect different views, not everyone likes the same stuff. I dont consider this to be real "music" real music is not mass produced.
When I said I like rock I meant classic rock (Hendrix, zeppelin, cream and many other talented musicains and bands.)


pulseczar
July 2nd 2006


2385 Comments


Mariah Carey writes or co-writes her own music, just like Hendrix, Mr. Classic Rock fanboy. Just because something is pop or mainstream, doesn't mean it's just manufactured souless music. You should get off your high horse and stop judging what music is real or not without knowing what you're talking about. NOt that I'd take someone like you seriously in the first place after saying everything you just said.



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