Mariah Carey does not compromise to what you think would give her a hit. She makes music that she enjoys and have fun with it. While it may not be the “Classic Mariah” that many people adore from her pre-Butterfly album eras, she still leaves a wonderful presence among her hardcore fans. She went from giving her best pop work to the mass to taking a little corner to dabble with R&B and hip-hop but never given enough credit for it because it isn’t in trend. Just as Mariah’s latest 15th studio album Caution, she enjoys her creative process to work with producers and artists that solidify her role as one of the R&B queens of our generations.
After a lukewarm performance of her last album Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse released in 2014, she has been keeping busy with her kids, new boyfriend, Las Vegas residencies, world tour, voicing for computer-animated Christian comedy film Star, narrated in animated film All I Want for Christmas Is You based on her hit holiday song, signed to a new label, as well as releasing a few singles along the way.
Before Caution was released, Mariah already teased us with four songs off the album namely “GTFO,” “With You,” “The Distance” and “A No No” with her new label Epic Records. “GTFO” kick off the Caution album as she nonchalantly asks, “How ‘bout you get the f*ck out” to her knight in shining armour over a Nineteen85-produced track that is so subtle, yet so deadly in content through Mariah’s dramatic lyrics that we know and love.
This was followed up by a love song, which is her official first single off the album called “With You” produced by DJ Mustard with lyrics that goes “Yo, I’ve been loving you so long / Ever since that Bone Thugs song” that refers to her 1997 single “Breakdown” with Krayzie and Wish Bone from hip-hop group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Mimi sure knows how to take us down the memory lane with her ways by incorporating her catalogue. It is not as catchy as “GTFO,” but a great sing-along song.
Mariah dropped “A No No” prior to the album release too which samples rapper Lil’ Kim’s “Crush on You” remix that features The Notorious B.I.G. and Lil Cease, which she has been wanting to do for a long time. The diva puts on a savage mode with lyrics like “Off with your head / Now slither out the door / Snakes in the grass / It’s time to cut the lawn.” The world was snatched when she includes the famous Biggie line “He’s a slut, he’s a ho, he’s a freak / Got a different girl every day of the week” from the original remix as well as some “Touch My Body” elements into it.
We were surprised by her collaboration with famous DJ and producer Skrillex on “The Distance” that features Ty Dolla $ign. This triumphant single celebrates the haters that two people in love have to endure as she sings “Look at us, we’re going the distance / They just wanna be us / They don’t wanna see us / Going the distance.” It is always great to see Mariah reaching out to new talents to expand her sound which features a cheerleading chant about spirit that took us back to “Up Out My Face.”
Then the album arrives. Is it as exciting as the released tracks have been? You betcha. The other tracks are an anthem for many occasions whether to reminisce on the past, ex-lovers, personal struggles or just a fun moment. There’s a variety of textures on the album overall from the Timbaland-produced “8th Grade” to that amazing collaboration with Slick Rick and Blood Orange on “Giving Me Life.” Mariah is giving us her all from the bedroom-anthem “One Mo’ Gen” to the very personal “Portrait” to close the album.
Don’t call it a comeback because this diva and songwriter has been delivering amazing albums to us, but it usually isn’t what the critics want. Having that said, Caution feels unforced and in some ways, very similar to the tone she was serving us in the overlooked Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel album. This would go down well to a lot of naysayers as it obvious Mariah is having a lot of fun with this album and we sure enjoy it a lot too.
Full album on Spotify:
Writer | Kevin Yeoh
Kevin was the former editor of two music and lifestyle platforms in Malaysia. He is an all-round music enthusiast from the '90's R&B to K-Pop.