Carey's latest 'Mimi' falters

Daily Arts Writer
Published April 12, 2005

Despite an ill-fated stint of R&B and rap-inspired crossover albums, Mariah Carey made a significant impact on the music world in the ’90s — she was the top-selling female artist of the decade. On the Glitter soundtrack and Butterfly, Mariah abandoned her infectious pop confections and powerful eight-octave voice for club mega-hits and uptempo drivel with rap’s hottest stars. Her latest full-length release, The Emancipation of Mimi, returns to Carey’s pop roots but still lacks the charisma of her most powerful records.

Mimi is an alter ego that Carey was probably introduced to during her exhaustion-fueled freak-outs. Her “emancipation” on this disc — a word that is explicitly defined in the liner notes — is a homecoming for her airy vocals and lackluster love songs. On “Shake It Off,” Carey sounds like a 13-year-old boy going through puberty, singing love songs to a grade school crush.

A few dreary guest appearances fail to complement Carey’s hearty croons. Twista arrives with more rapid but insipid verses. Snoop Dogg and Nelly’s rhymes also fail to add dimension to Carey’s music and are monotonous and bleak.

The Emancipation of Mimi finds salvation in its production — Jermaine Dupri and the Neptunes contribute beats — along with Carey’s occasional burst of theatric brilliance. She flexes her vocal muscles on “Mine Again” and radio single “It’s Like That,” a track with an infectious beat that utilizes handclaps and southern-inspired keyboard whistles. Carey’s latest is a pleasant departure from her R&B escapades, but it can’t compare to her earlier, signature works.