I created Mariah Carey. Seriously. I mean this, not in a Tommy Mottola Svengali way, but in the sense of one’s deepest desires becoming physically manifest.
(Yes, I’ve read “The Secret,” and totally believe that shit.) See, for most of her nearly 20-year career, Mariah has made music that has helped me reconcile two diametrically opposed parts of my musical personality—the hip-hop head who pumps Biggie, Jay-Z, and Young Jeezy at top volume and the disco kid who storms the dancefloor whenever a dj plays a club remix of a current pop hit. Mariah, through various album tracks and remixes, consistently offers up an authentic mix of hip-hop-inflected R&B (often featuring the hottest rappers o’ the day) and ass-shakin’, hand-wavin’ club music. She makes me feel less alone in my musical tastes. That’s why, in my head, I feel like I invented her in the same way that a child makes up an imaginary friend.
Mariah continues her genre-mixing ways with her current project, “Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel.” The album itself is a love letter to ‘90s R&B—the kind that knocked your boots; freaked you up and down; did you any time, any place; and kept it on the down low. (I can’t wait to make out with a guy to the bass-heavy “More Than Just Friends” and then bone him to the slinky slow jam “The Impossible.”) Perhaps because “Memoirs” is so laid back, it has already spawned a flurry of tempo-raising remixes. The Eminem-dissing first single “Obsessed” comes with several dance mixes and a hip-hop version with mixtape king, Gucci Mane. And, if you do some google-ing, you can find a T-Pain mix of the nostalgic “Candy Bling,” and two mixes of the breakup ballad “H.A.T.E.U.”—one samples the Ghost Town DJs ’96 bass jam, “My Boo,” and the other is a dancefloor-friendly whirl by the Jump Smokers.
The cut that has yielded the most remixes, though, is her cover of Foreigner’s ‘80s anthem “I Want To Know What Love Is.” This is my least favorite song on “Memoirs,” largely because it feels like a tagged-on nod to her pop-ballad fans. Mariah gives a typically heartfelt performance, but the backing track is blandly karaoke-ish. Most of the remixes, including those by such well-known track-tweakers as Moto Blanco and Nu Addiction, tend to err on the cheesy side, making the song, about a soul-shaking quest for love, too happily upbeat. But the “Chew Fu Club Mix” works because it gives the song a sleek and slightly ominous electro feel that’s both modern and true to the yearning emotional content. The mix doesn’t come close to some of Mariah’s classic dance remixes like the David Morales overhauls of “Dreamlover” and “Fantasy.” But, as a fan, I appreciate Mariah’s commitment to remixing, even when the results are uneven. It shows that, not only does she know what love is, she knows what I love.