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Columbia Records

20 Years Later: Mariah Carey's 'Butterfly' Tracklist, Ranked

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, VIBE ranks her sixth studio album's tracks from worst-to-stands the test of time. 

Climbing to the top of your craft or profession is no easy task, but the mark of a true legend lies in one’s ability to reinvent themselves without missing a beat. In 1997, musical icon Mariah Carey was in that exact position.

At that time, after selling upwards of 50 million copies worldwide within a five-year span, Carey was at a professional and personal crossroad. Her marriage with Tommy Mottola, the high-powered Columbia Records music executive who offered her her first record deal, was on the fritz and eventually ended in May. Their separation coincided with the recording of Honey, the superstar's sixth studio album. It followed-up her massively successful Daydream album, which sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, raising Carey's celebrity to unprecedented heights.

While Daydream included traditional pop hits like "One Sweet Day" and "Always Be My Baby," one inclusion on the album helped Carey break new ground: the remix to her hit single, "Fantasy." Calling on Wu-Tang Clan member Ol' Dirty Bastard to co-star alongside her, the pairing was an odd couple on paper but translated into magic on wax, resulting in one of the defining moments in '90s pop culture, bridging the mainstream with the underground.

"Fantasy" may have been viewed as an anomaly, but Mariah Carey decided to take more creative control on her sixth studio album and sought out rap's top performers and producers to lend their touch to Butterfly. Among those enlisted were Sean "Puffy Combs, Missy Elliott, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Ma$e, Trackmasters, Stevie J, and other hip-hop luminaries, resulting in an album that was steeped in the glossy, big-budget sound of hip-hop soul of that time. The album added more than a bit of flavor to Mariah Carey's clean-cut, pop-princess persona. While critics were initially polarized in reaction to Carey's change of pace, with some admonishing her love affair with hip-hop, fans were more than ready for the evolution of MiMi and the urban market claimed the newfound vixen as one of their own.

Despite not reaching the same commercial success of her previous albums, Butterfly was a commercial and critical success, debuting atop the Billboard 200, with 236,000 sold in its first week, eventually totaling more than five million copies sold worldwide. The 12-track LP kickstarted Mariah Carey's streak of high-profile collaborations with rap artists before keeping strong ties to the hip-hop community and working with the likes of JAY-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, The LOX and more.

In celebration of Butterfly's 20th anniversary, VIBE ranked the album's tracks from the worst to the best song that has stood the test of time.

Where does your favorite song stack up?


12. The Beautiful Ones

Retreading territory already conquered by a musical legend is a task reserved for the most talented of performers, and Mariah Carey takes her stab at channeling the spirit of Prince and the Revolution with her cover of the group's 1983 classic "The Beautiful Ones." Produced by Cory Rooney and Carey herself, Mariah's cover includes a revamped version of the original instrumental, as well as additional vocals by Sisqo of Dru Hill. Although the attempt at replicating the magic of the original is admirable, it ultimately fell a bit flat compared to its predecessor.

11. Fly Away

"Don't be afraid to fly," Mariah Carey purrs on "Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise)," the sole intermission on the megastar's 1997 album. Written by Mariah Carey, David Morales, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, "Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise)" is among the handful of uptempo records on the album and features grand background vocals, in addition to Carey's signature runs and adlibs. It's so addictive that it gives a few of the actual full-length songs on Butterfly a run for their money.

10. Fourth of July

Mariah Carey and Walter Afanaseiff joined forces behind the boards on the Butterfly cut "Fourth of July," which finds the then-Columbia Records franchise player in starry-eyed lust. Written by Carey herself, "Fourth of July" is one of the more breezy selections on the album, as she gives a feathery vocal performance, singing with a nimble tilt over live percussion, bass guitars, and delicate keys, making it one of the album's standout offerings.

9. Baby Doll

Mariah Carey enlisted producer Stevie J and multi-threat Missy Elliott, two of the integral cogs in '90s R&B to help construct "Baby Doll," one of the multiple instances on Butterfly in which Carey sheds her pop princess skin and delves into contemporary R&B. Co-produced by Stevie J and Carey, "Baby Doll" was penned in part by Elliott, as well as collaborator Cory Rooney, and includes an impassioned vocal performance on the songstress' part, making for a sensuous addition to the album's tracklist.

8. Whenever You Call

"Love wandered inside/Stronger than you, stronger than I," Mariah Carey croons on "Whenever You Call," one of an array of piano-driven compositions showcasing the singer's full octaves. Produced by long-time collaborator Walter Afanaseiff and herself, "Whenever You Call" is trends more toward ballad driven material that littered her previous bodies of work and provides a sense of balance to the hip-hop-inspired fair that is prevalent on Carey's sixth studio album.

7. The Roof

"I got you stuck off the realness," Prodigy's sampled vocals warn at the beginning of "The Roof," a gritty offering on Mariah Carey's Butterfly album that helped break new ground for the singer. Produced by Trackmasters, the track, which also includes a sample of "Rock Box" by Run-D.M.C., is steeped in the glossy sound of mid-'90s R&B and served as a departure from her more pop-oriented stylings. Despite not charting in the U.S., "The Roof" saw success abroad, gained traction in the United Kingdom, as well as the Netherlands, and helped introduce the new incarnation of Mariah Carey to fans, internationally.

6. Outside

Mariah Carey ends Butterfly with a personal touch on the final cut, "Outside," which finds the vocalist expressing her struggles as a biracial child and finding the wealth within herself. "Blind and unguided into a world divided/You're thrown, where you're never quite the same," Carey laments over keyboard riffs and delicate percussion, before gradually turning up the intensity to a fever pitch, as she flexes her vocal range on one of the album's more meaningful inclusions.

5. Close My Eyes

One of the most popular deep cuts on the album is "Close My Eyes," an autobiographical number on which she draws from her own past experiences. Produced by Walter Afanaseiff and Mariah Carey and written by Carey herself, "Close My Eyes" is noted as one of the singer's favorite records from her catalog and was in part inspired by her tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Tommy Mottola, who she divorced prior to the album's release.

4. My All

Emotion and passion run deep on "My All," one of the more sensuous selections and most potent on Butterfly. "I'd give my all to have just one more night with you," Mariah Carey sings, yearning over intense acoustic guitar riffs, courtesy of Walter Afanasieff, who compliments the backdrop with additional keys and synths. The fifth released single debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, but eventually became Mariah Carey's thirteenth chart-topping single which went on to platinum status, making it one of the more impactful songs from the album to date.

3. Butterfly

"Spread your wings and prepare to fly/For you have become a butterfly," background singers Melanie Daniels and Mary Ann Tatum belt out on the title-track to Mariah Carey's sixth studio album. Originally intended to be a house record with producer David Morales, Carey shifted course after realizing the power of the song's content, ultimately teaming up with Walter Afanasieff to construct the song that is known today. Despite not being released as a commercial single, "Butterfly" was a moderate success domestically and overseas, and has been praised as a signature selection from her catalog.

2. Breakdown

In an attempt to further ingratiate herself to the hip-hop community, Mariah Carey teamed up with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Krayzie Bone and Wishbone for "Breakdown," a collaborative effort that would translate into magic. Produced by Puff Daddy, Stevie J, and Mariah Carey herself, "Breakdown" is a mid-tempo soundscape powered by digitized drums and live instrumentation, where Mariah lays down sultry vocals, while Bone Thugs attack the track with their signature brand of staccato raps and harmonious couplets. The fourth single released from Butterfly, "Breakdown" peaked at No. 4 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and cemented Mariah Carey's transition into the world of hip-hop soul.

1. Honey

There are certain songs in an artist's discography that mark a point of evolution and growth. For Mariah Carey, "Honey" did just that. Produced by Mariah Carey, Stevie J, Puff Daddy & The Ummah, "Honey" incorporates samples from the popular old school rap classics "Hey DJ" by the World's Famous Supreme Team, and "The Body Rock" by the Treacherous Three. The lead-single blatantly announced Mariah Carey's first full-blown foray into the world of hip-hop, and a joyous moment it was.

"Honey" proved to be one of Carey's most highly anticipated songs of her career, causing it to become her third to debut atop Billboard's Hot 100 chart. "Honey," which includes guest vocals from Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Records artist Ma$e, was accompanied by a remix featuring multiple members of the Bad Boy family, and served as moment of liberation on the part of Mariah, making it one of her most important and timeless tunes of her career, and the pinnacle of Butterfly album as a whole.


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J.Cole, Teyana Taylor And Other Snubs Of The 2019 Grammy Nominations

It's that time of year again when inner circles and strangers on the Internet debate who's up for a gramophone.

On Friday (Dec. 7), the nominees for 2019's Grammy Awards (Feb. 10) were announced to a span of hot takes, early but informed predictions, and a wall of confusion as to why certain artists were overlooked. While some entertainers excitedly received the good news (Cardi B discovered her nods while leaving a courthouse), others were left scratching their heads.

Here's a look at why those who were snubbed by the Recording Academy deserved to be nominated.

READ MORE: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, And Cardi B Lead 2019 Grammys Nominations


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Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

Some of music's biggest stars attended Billboard's annual Women in Music event on Thursday night (Dec. 6).

Pop star Ariana Grande was awarded with the night's highest honor, "Woman Of The Year," while SZA, Janelle Monae, Cyndi Lauper, Hayley Kiyoko, and Kacey Musgraves were awarded with subsequent prestigious honors.

VIBE got a chance to speak to some of the musicians in attendance on the carpet, including hip-hoppers Anderson .Paak and Tierra Whack, the Janelle Monae-cosigned St. Beauty, and Massah David, the co-founder of the creative agency, MVD Inc..

When prompted about some of their favorite bodies of work by female artists this year, a resounding amount of musicians stated Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E and Tierra Whack's Whack World as some of their personal picks.

The 23-year-old MC and first-time Grammy nominee confirmed with VIBE she's working on "something really special" with fellow Philadelphian and friend Meek Mill. She also stated that while the accolades for her work have been exciting, she's more excited for society to stop gendering dope artists, especially in the hip-hop game.

"I hope that [labeling through gender] ends soon," she said. "I know, technically, rap is a male-dominated industry, but, like, I’m better than all of ‘em! [laughs] It is what it is! I don’t even count gender or color, it’s just whoever’s got it."

What are some members of the music industry looking forward to in 2019? More women in high-profile positions and more chances for women in general.

"Hopefully just having more opportunities for women in different spaces in music, whether it’s radio, behind-the-scenes, engineering, actually making the music," said David. "I’m just hoping we get to see women in more executive roles."

Watch our recap video above.

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Pusha-T Pushes The Culture Forward Through Mentorship With New Discovery Platform

“I actually told [my manager] Shiv, I’m not doing any more interviews,” Pusha-T ironically admits to VIBE in an exclusive sit-down.

It seems about right since the rapper has endured a relentless news cycle this year, both for promoting his highly-acclaimed album DAYTONA and his feud with Drake.

He’s perched upright in a swivel chair in the studio of Lower Manhattan’s Electric Lady Sound Studios, a venue that easily has one of the richest musical histories – built by Jimi Hendrix in 1970 and recorded legends like Stevie Wonder and David Bowie.

Interestingly enough, Pusha has forfeited his previous promise on a particularly muggy day in November, to talk not about his multiple wins, but his latest project with 1800 Tequila. The G.O.O.D. Music show-runner has partnered with the brand to launch “1800 Seconds,” a new artist discovery platform that highlights unsigned artists from around the country. For its inaugural project, Pusha served as a mentor to 10 artists on the rise – Sam Austins (Detroit), T Got Bank (Brooklyn), Cartel Count Up (Hampton, VA), Hass Irv (Harlem), Nita Jonez (Houston), Trevor Lainer (Wilmington, NC) Mona Lyse (Detroit), Don Zio P (Middletown, CT), Tyler Thomas (Los Angeles), and Ant White (Philadelphia) – to curate a compilation album comprised of 10 new tracks.

Pusha personally selected each artist and challenged them to write and record a new track that showcases why they are the premier talent to watch. He sat down with each artist for more than one hour over the span of a week, observing little quirks, analyzing their sound and assessing their strengths. As he runs us through the album’s tracklist, he smiles, prefacing each single with an anecdote about the artist. Tyler Thomas is a notable favorite amongst the group and matches Pusha’s discipline in writing; Harlem’s Hass Irv is a verified sneaker dealer who boasts some of the most sought-after Jordans in his collection; Detroit’s Mona Lyse is a bonafide 90’s rap connoisseur. Push notes that she can pump out facts on artists like Notorious B.I.G. with such precision that even he has to take notes.

While this opportunity probably comes as a chance in a lifetime for the handful of artists, whose backgrounds, ages, and identities range tremendously, it seems to be just as monumental for Pusha-T.

This project should be seen as a win for hip-hop as it merges the gap between veterans and rookies, which in the past, has been broadened by various riffs between the two parties. Some of the seasoned titans may not understand the new wave, but Pusha-T alludes to mentorship and collaborations as a thing of the future and likely the next phase of his career. “This is part of my calling and how I’m supposed to mature in the music business,” he says. “I think I have my hand on the pulse on what’s going on musically out here… People will listen to my raps and listen to my music and be like, ‘aww man, he ain’t going to rock with me.’ And really, I do. I enjoy it.”

In celebration of the album’s release, all 10 of the selected artists will perform their recorded tracks, followed by a performance by Pusha himself in New York City's Sony Hall on Dec. 5. The compilation album will officially debut on Dec. 7.

In VIBE’s exclusive interview with Pusha-T, we discuss 1800 Tequila’s brave courageous new school of young rappers, the importance of paying it forward, and retirement.

The first 1800 Seconds compilation album is available now. Listen to it and check out our interview with Pusha-T below. 


VIBE: Can you give us a rundown on how you selected these artists?

Pusha-T: It was a vetting process between us and 1800. I would look for guys that were a strong lyricist, guys who're into melody. Just, you know, small followings, but I thought they were dope.

That’s interesting because in this era of music people focus on the people with the massive followings on social media.

You know, you got to think, if it’s too big then it’s not really special to see it in this process.

Very true. Your music has pretty much always stayed true to your sound and brand. So did you find it challenging to work with this pool of new artists that follow so many of the new trends in hip-hop?

Nah, I think that this is part of my calling and how I’m supposed to mature in the music business. Man, I’m performing in front of 18 to 45 [years old] every night, and it trips me out to see the people get hype over “Grinding” and the people that just know me since 2013. But you know, with that being said, I think I have my hand on the pulse, on what’s going on musically out here. I’ve learned how to enjoy it. I enjoy all types of rap. People will listen to my raps and listen to my music and be like, “aww man, he ain’t going to rock with me.” And really, I do. I enjoy it. I mean, how could you not? To be in it like this, how could I not find appreciation in everything that’s going on?

The way you answered my last question seems like you’re considering retirement or at least exploring what that looks like. But you’re right in the thick of it all, so that’s very interesting.

Yeah, man. I don’t think lyric-driven hip-hop goes out of style. I think that stays around forever, and then I feel like you retire when you’re out of the mix of it and out of the culture and lifestyle of it. When you start not caring about hip-hop aesthetics and just being first and competing, then you supposed to be like, alright cool, I’m out. But until then, I still know what’s fresh to put on and so on and so forth.

One of the biggest differences between vets and new artists is the communities they live in and the things they witness as youth. Did you see some of those differences reflected in their music while working with them?

Yeah. As a veteran artist, I was speaking about what was going on outside at that very moment. I think the newer artists are more introspective. They’re more about themselves and trying to convey messages from their heart. They’re trying to sell you on them, whether they want to party [or] they’re heartbroken. It’s not so much looking out the project window and saying what’s going on. It’s like, I don’t even want to go outside. I’m in my room, and y'all don’t even know I’m writing and I’m going to show y’all one day. It’s all about that.

That seems kind of overwhelming or can come on too strong at times, no?

Nah. As a writer, you dial in on things… You know when somebody says something in a song like, “oh you meant that.” Or you were so intricate with the description of that, you had to get that off. So that’s a score as a writer, me listening to somebody like that. That’s a good thing.

What’s the greatest lesson that you have given this new generation?

I think the greatest lesson for me and the position I’m in right now is opening up these corporate opportunities. They do everything themselves. They’re shooting their own videos, recording themselves. They’re writing, producing, and recording themselves. They’re damn near engineering. One of the girls, [Nita Jonez], she was like, “Yeah, I just be knocking little stuff out while I’m at the crib.” I’m like, I don’t even do that. I don’t even know how to finesse all that. But they’re so self-sufficient. Only thing I could try to do is just package it for them the best way possible. They all got dreams of being huge. A lot of that has to do with the art and what they’re doing, but how it’s presented [as well]. And that’s what I try to show 'em and teach and help 'em with.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from them?

Man, there are just absolutely no rules. No rules at all. They’re such free spirits. They don’t even record how I do. I come in a with a new notepad, pen, and I write like that. I have to see it. It helps me memorize it. They come in and run straight to the mic and just be who they are. And they find themselves through it all. Not everybody; there were some other writers in there, like, Hass and Tyler. Tyler [is] so good at it. It comes out just that precise or damn near close. And then he’ll go and chop it up, make it right a little bit. But they just have that unorthodox attack in the studio. I’m more like, I want to sit down, chill… I don’t even like being in the studio that long. I probably write at home, then I’ll come here and figure out the rest. It’s a very formatted type of thing. And some of the spontaneity and some of the energy probably gets lost in my way because they come in and vibe immediately. Things that may just happen on the spur of the moment, they catch it. When I come in, it’s just all there. Either I’ve written it already or I’m writing it and that’s just what it is. I may lose an adlib. I may lose something that’s quirky in a song that just happens that probably won’t happen for me, but they’ll catch every time.

Do you think there’s a way to balance that incorporates both of those worlds – yours and theirs – to make that ideal way to create?

Well, I think it would have to come from practice. Certain people learn a certain way. Honestly, there’s no difference in what they do than what Jay-Z does. He just practices so much that way that his mind works and processes things really fast. And you know, he’s just really confident in not seeing anything and catching the vibe and going at it. Theirs is just unorthodox. It’s the same thing though. And then as they do it more and better, it’ll get more concise.

In any field, with mentorship there’s only so much you’re willing to take from your mentor before you’re ready to do it yourself. Who were your mentors, and what were some of the things you did and didn’t take from them?

From afar, it would have to be Teddy Riley. Him moving to the area, Virginia Beach, where I’m from – him alone was like wait a minute, music is a real thing. Oh man, there’s a Ferrari down my street. I can’t believe this. I’m seeing Jay-Z’s here. Michael Jackson’s in Virginia Beach for what? You know, shooting a video, all of these things that happened, let me know that this is a real thing and not just for the people on TV. Now in arm’s reach, you got Pharrell and Chad. You got my brother [Malice] who taught me how to write. He actually taught me that MC Hammer wasn’t a rapper when I thought he was. Pharrell literally taught me how to count bars. It’s just been so many lessons between those guys; they taught me everything. They taught me to look at a song, try to see it the whole way through and not just get up and write for the sake of writing. Pharrell always told me, “you may not have something to say today.” Like if I get stuck, “It’s fine. You’ll get to it. We’ll find it another day.” Never force it though.

There’s a huge divide in the genre as far as rookies vs. vets go. This project is so good because it’s paying it forward. Do you think that’s both a necessary and important part of the culture that needs to be restored?

Yes. Well, no. You know what? It’s not for everyone. It’s not for everybody to do. Some people are so stuck in their heyday that they can’t even see what’s going on outside. Everybody that I’ve ever liked in rap music, I probably have had a longer career than all of them. Like whoever I thought was the greatest in my time, I be like, bro, wait a minute they only have five years, five albums? What? When I really think about it, it’s because they all got stuck in their heyday. And that was a hell of a time. The greatest of all great raps, but you know, they couldn’t see any further than that. And when something new came up, they was like, “Yeah, but y’all don’t like us because we…” They just start getting washed and their jeans start fitting differently and they pick the wrong size. They just get stuck in that time period and before you know it, it’s skinny jean time and they got on fucking size 42s and they weigh a buck 50 and they look crazy. And it’s wrong because you get stuck because you don’t embrace and try to help and learn from what’s coming in next. And you should. This is music. You can never stop learning. You have to continuously learn with this forever. It’s just what it is until you just say I’m done. It’s not for everybody man. If you’re not trying to push hip-hop forward, then no, you’re going to be washed and you should be. You should be. I think it’s corny. This is the youngest genre of music. The youngest, most powerful, most influential. We should not be at a point where the elders are knocking the rookies. It’s corny. That’s an effort to stunt the growth of the genre. And that is just totally wrong, 100 percent.

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