Mariah Carey has a lot to say on her next album, so much so that our colleagues at MTV Base asked her for a track-by-track breakdown of E=MC2 — give it the ol' scientific method, so to speak. "This is me, 100 percent of me," Mariah says of the album, which hits stores Tuesday (and, appropriately enough, she is our Artist of the Week). "It's so much about fun and freedom."
So let's get to it:
"Migrate"" (featuring T-Pain)
"Basically, that song is about migrating from one place to another," Mariah said, "whether it's from the bar to the club, from the club to the apartment, to wherever, whatever, city to the beach, beach to who knows where." The club-thumper, which was co-produced by Nate "Danjahandz" Hills, is just about movement — which is why T-Pain tells her to "bounce." "I think that every time I go into the studio, if I'm inspired by the track I'm working on, and if I've put so much of myself into the record, at the end of the day, I want it to be the most fun explosion of music I can make."
"Touch My Body"
"It's amazing to feel just how fast 'Touch My Body' is exploding all around the world," Mariah enthused. "I'm just so thankful, because it's a song that I love so much, a song that really does express my personality." In case you missed it on the first listen, the reason Mariah threatens to "hunt you down" isn't to get some action — it's in case you put that action on YouTube. So if you're going to get busy with Mariah, keep it private! "For most of my close friends, that's their favorite song, because it's fun and it's cute and it's not taking itself too seriously, you know what I mean? I love the humor in it." That humor is conveyed more in the video, directed by Brett Ratner. "He had some time because of the writers' strike, and he was really feeling the record," she said of the clip, which co-stars "30 Rock" funnyman Jack McBrayer. "The idea of Jack McBrayer came up, and I was like, 'That's amazing!' Because he is hilarious. Why take this so seriously? They're videos."
"Cruise Control" (featuring Damian Marley)
"What it really means is that you have to slow down," Mariah said. "Because every time you're around this guy, you're going a little too fast, and he's the wrong type of guy for you to be with, but you don't know how to handle it." Mariah wrote the track during her second visit to Jermaine Dupri's Atlantic studio, with the aid of backup vocalist Crystal Johnson. "It was cool to kinda co-write that with JD and with Crystal, because, you know, it's coming from the woman's point of view and it also comes from JD's point of view," which Mariah felt made the track "really hot."
"Side Effects" (featuring Young Jeezy)
"I wrote it because it was necessary for me to write it," Mariah said of her most personal, and angriest, song to date. Fans might be surprised at her references to "the hell that we built" and the "violent times," but Mariah thinks this song is for "anyone who's been in an abusive relationship." "You know what? I've been through too much at this point," she said. "I want happiness and I want pure and real love, but the side effects of what other relationships have put me through cause me to be kind of on the defensive a lot of the time. And if somebody isn't mature or caring and loving and open-hearted enough to understand that, then it's tough, but this is a song for people who need that." Mariah hopes that this song helps people feel "a little bit stronger."
"I'm That Chick"
"I was so excited to be in the room with Stargate, because L.A. Reid had said he really wanted me to get in a room with them," Mariah said of her producers, who incorporated an Off the Wall sample into the song's melody. "It's the sort of song you want to listen to as a girl. You want to look at yourself in the mirror and go, 'I'm that chick you like.' It's like preparation for a night out of feeling fly."
"One of the funny things I love about Jermaine Dupri is when I say something to him, he just runs with it," Mariah said. So at the beginning of "Love Story," Mariah told him that she wanted the beat to be hard, and told him, "Make this for the jeeps, not too soft." So when Dupri did his ad-libs at the beginning of the song before they mixed it, he says, "MC said, 'JD you gotta make it knock,' " and then adds a few hard beats, and goes, "You hear that?" It's an inside joke for the two of them, because while the song remains a ballad, it's "almost a rap record." "I think that's where our success comes from," she said, "because we understand each other on that level."
"I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time"
Mariah doesn't just refer to the oft-quoted line from "Full Metal Jacket" (and incorporated into urban music ever since, thanks to 2 Live Crew), she builds a whole song around it. "This is one of the last songs I wrote for this album," she said. "I thought, 'Let me just make this a carefree record. It's kind of a party record to me. It's just like not caring too much about anything else that's going on except you living in the moment," which goes on a "long time" in Mariah time.
" 'Last Kiss' is a special song to me," Mariah said. "When I hear that song, and I hear my first [line], 'Feel so empty inside, since our last kiss goodbye,' I feel like an 8-year-old kid. I'm like, 'OK, this is me as a little girl singing.' " When she was at a party with Quincy Jones, he asked her to rewind the song and play it over. "And I said, 'Well, he isQuincy Jones, [producer of Michael Jackson's] Thriller and Off the Wall, and if he's asking me to play the song over, I should pretty much take that as a humungous compliment!' And I did. And it makes me happy, because that's my favorite song."
"Thanx 4 Nothin' "
"It's a sarcastic moment in the land of Mariah Carey songs," she says of the first ballad she wrote for the album. "This song is gonna resonate with people who are really going through a bleak moment in their relationship, where it's like, 'Yeah, it's fantastic, thanks for nothing.' You know what that is." And JD got to demonstrate his innate understanding of Mariah at the beginning of the song once again, when he introduces it by saying, "This is for all the women who are sick and tired of getting played." "He knows it," Mariah laughed. "That's what it is."
A lesson in Mariah slanguage: "O.O.C." means "out of control." Co-written with Swizz Beatz and Da Brat, Mariah found a few other kindred souls who understood her instinctively and yet were still able to contribute "a different perspective." "It's so amazing to write with someone who is also a rapper," Mariah said of Brat. "We can put our minds together and come up with something really unique and cool. That night, when we left the studio, I was like, 'I don't know how Swizz feels about it and whatever, but I really like it!' "
"For the Record"
"It's one of those songs that the people who are really fans of mine, who know my music really well, are going to gravitate towards," Mariah promised. And that's not just because she's name-dropping her past hits throughout the lyrics. OK, well, it is. "I say, 'For the record, you'll always be a part of me,' from 'Always Be My Baby,' " Mariah said. "And I kind of go through, 'Can't nobody say I didn't give my all for you.' The real fans who listen and then hear, 'I told you underneath the stars,' they'll know that's for them."
"Sometimes when I'm writing a song, it does come from such a raw place that I'm actually crying while writing it," Mariah admitted. Her second single, a tribute to her late father, is also meant to reach anyone else who has suffered a loss of a loved one. "Sometimes I hear it and feel that this is going to touch a lot of people, and that's why it's important that no matter what's ever happened to me over my career, that I stay the course and continue to write and try and reach people who need." Anyone who manages to do the reverse, and touch Mariah with one of their songs, "I'm indebted to them forever."
"I Wish You Well"
In the tradition of "Vanishing," this piano ballad is very simple but very effective. "Basically, it's about coming to a place within yourself where you, no matter what somebody does to you, you can forgive them," she said. "And even if you're a little bitter about it, you say your piece, and you let it go."
Mariah is MTV's Artist of the Week! Check out our collection of over 40 Mariah Carey videos — including her latest, "Touch My Body" — find out more about her new album, E=MC2, watch her exclusive live performances from The Hills" premiere, and much more!