“It’s a special occasion/Mimi’s emancipation…” chants MC on, “It’s Like That,” the Fatman Scoop-ed up lead single from her triumphant comeback album, ‘The Emancipation of Mimi,’ which is now a decade old. While “It’s Like That” wasn’t Mariah’s biggest lead single, it was just the song she needed, as it became her highest charting cut in five years, as well as making room for “We Belong Together,” a monster ballad that not only became one of her biggest hits…ever, but it also marked Mariah Carey’s triumphant return to ‘Mariah’ form. The Jermaine Dupri produced ballad came at a time when the chanteuse needed it most, after much of her career in the early ’00s was disrupted with record label drama squabbles and recovery period from her highly publicized breakdown. When ‘The Emancipation of Mimi’ was released on April 12th, 2005, it took over the charts and truly brought back a talent that rightfully deserved another swan song. Today, Philly Mixtape is going open up the music vault once again and get lost in all things ‘Mimi,’ and no matter what you may think of Ms. Mariah these days, this record truly deserves recognition for the memorable music comeback story that came out of it.
When ‘Mimi’ hit headphones, (by the way, ‘Mimi’ is Mariah’s alter-ego. we certainly get it by now.), the singer delivered a set that was lavishly laced up with bedroom grooves, vixen vocal stylings and plenty of newfound confidence that glides almost effortlessly on the sultry record. While ‘Mimi’ certainly doesn’t have the vocal prowess that her earlier work delivered, the diva’s voice fit to every track, whether it was on the bouncing, “Get Your Number,” the funky, “Stay The Night,” or the heavenly, ‘Fly Like a Bird’ or ‘Circles.’ Each track was not only Mariah putting in her, um, all, but it also showed just how much she truly made it through the rain when it came to bringing back her music confidence. Most reviews said that ‘Mimi’ was a fresh return to form for the singer, New York reviewer Jon Parales said, “…she disciplines herself into coherence, using fewer tricks and sounding more believable. She also finds what lesser singers can take for granted:a certain lightness that eases her constant sense of control.” You listening, Ms. Ariana….
As she did with most of her later sets, Mariah enlisted a top-notch team of music producers to help craft the perfect blend of mid-tempo pop tunes with just the right seasoning of big, bold Mariah balladry. Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes pop up on the swinging, “Say Something’,” along with Snoop Dogg spitting out a fun verse. Kanye West even lent his production skills to the ’70s after hours groove inspired, “Stay The Night,” but, if there’s one producer who had his biggest music hand in shaping up Mariah’s comeback set, it was Mr. Jermaine Dupri. Ms. Janet’s ex not only put together the perfect blend of beats for Ms. Mariah, but he also produced most of the hit singles for ‘Mimi,’ including,”It’s Like That,” “Shake it Off,” the wild, “Get Your Number,” and of course, “We Belong Together.”
When “We Belong Together’ was released, the bold ballad took over all things radio with its light R&B flow, heart wrenching lyrics and Mariah’s strong vocals which soared to perfection, especially in THAT ending breakdown. The accompanying video also gained loads of ‘Mimi’ buzz, featuring Mariah choosing between two men (Eric Roberts and a not-out-yet,Wentworth Miller) on her wedding day, eventually choosing Mr. ‘Prison Break.’ (I mean, who wouldn’t?). You may also remember that Ms. Diva wore the same wedding dress that she married Tommy Mottola in a decade earlier…and also…that fabulous tuniq she rocked….priceless.
The track went on to spend fourteen weeks in the top spot, also landing as the Billboard song of the year for 2005, and setting things up for the ‘Mimi’ re-release, the ‘Ultra Platinum’ edition which included the DJ Clue remix of “We Belong Together,” a killer Darkchild produced rewire of ‘Mimi’ cut “One and Only,” and the Dupri laced, “Don’t Forget About Us, ” which went on to give Mariah another #1 hit.
Since its release ten years ago, Mimi has sold a whopping 12 million copies worldwide, and while the window shattering diva has released a handful sets following, none have come close to the prowess and material that ‘Mimi’ was constructed with. (Sorry, ‘E=Mc2′) As mentioned before, no matter what you think of Mariah now or then, it was this album that contained at least one song that you got down to, whether you were doing the Fatman to “It’s Like That,” mourning over a lost love through “We Belong Together” or just shakin’ it all off, dah-ling, Mariah’s ‘Mimi’ hit that music “G” spot and gave us a delightful music comeback story that rightfully deserves to be told a decade later…and then some.