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After all this time, do you really think Mariah Carey doesn’t know her best angle? Specifically, she’s launched into K-Ci and Jo Jo’s hook on the rapper’s 1996 hit “How Do U Want It” as a means of explaining that, over a career in which she’s collaborated with Jay Z, Snoop, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Nas, the LOX, Rick Ross, and Jeezy, the MC she most regrets not having worked with is 2Pac. Back then, she fought for the ODB feature and won a concession from her label, Sony, whose execs saw it as an appropriative move rather than an acknowledgement that Carey was part of the culture. “I love the grimiest rappers in the world,” she says.
“They were like, ‘Oh, she’s interested in this little rap music,’” she remembers. “That’s my favorite.” Carey remembers driving around New York one night listening to Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones” when she got the idea for “The Roof,” an album cut from 1997’s about fleeting romance.
It was a tough line to walk.” Pop diva is the most familiar veneer to Carey’s onlookers.
But it won’t be, according to Carey, a put-it-all-out-there show in the style of the Kardashian clan—who are, coincidentally, filming something in a private dining room 15 yards away.
“Some of us,” Carey says, casting a glance toward the room, “talk about other people and what they do and la la la.
Carey found that through her hip-hop collaborations she could flex as both the moll and the boss, navigating between the two impulses to do whatever she wanted.
People remember her vamping on roller skates in the “Fantasy” video, but few remember that it was also her directorial debut—she rigged a camera to a roller coaster a decade before Go Pros were invented. Reid first took over at Universal in 2002, he asked Carey for advice on who should fill the president’s seat at subsidiary label Def Jam.Since then, she’s been increasingly willing to make fun of her flaws, purposefully playing up her diva image to let you know she’s in on the joke.