Mariah Carey and Jermaine Dupri have cemented a rock-solid legacy over the past 18 years, collaborating on some of the singer's biggest hits, beginning with "Always Be My Baby." But the longtime friends are embarking on a new chapter together with the release of Carey's "The Art of Letting Go" on November 11.
In addition to the classics they've crafted, Carey and Dupri have a connection beyond the studio. This summer, the legendary So So Def Recordings founder took on a management role in Mariah's camp — a role he has played unofficially in the careers of artists such as Bow Wow and Kriss Kross.
"We've always had similar tastes in music," Mariah told MTV News of their relationship. "So we met because he was already producing great records and I wanted to work with the person behind the music that I was listening to and loving. That's when people were [shocked] — 'she's trying to work with rappers.' They didn't know what to do with that."
Dupri's first order of business in his management role was encouraging Carey to release her new song via Facebook, in an effort to speak directly to her fans.
"The Internet has made the world flat, so when you have a person like Mariah whose fanbase goes from here to other end of the world, why not share [the music] with everyone at once?" he told us.
Mariah welcomed the idea of releasing "The Art of Letting Go" directly to fans, even setting up plans to host a Q&A with her Lambs on Facebook in conjunction with the release of the song.
"The way I interact with my fans, it's a different thing than most people," Carey explained. "I've [had] this type of relationship with my fans since I first knew I had fans, which was not till my third album. It [sounds] crazy but it's actually true. I never felt like 'oh I'm famous.' I think now, people have one song -- even if it's one song, they're like, 'look at me I'm famous....All of a sudden, fame takes over, [but] you have to stay you, you have to stay grounded and my fans have kept me grounded."
Carey, who released the single "#Beautiful" with Miguel earlier this year, emphasized that Internet fame puts a short shelf life on an artist's career, recalling the moment she finally believed that she had fans, after seeing them waiting in the cold to land an autograph.
"Honestly, interacting directly with your fans is the best thing you can do because they are the ones who keep you where you are. Longevity is something that not everybody can have," she said. "Even some of the biggest new stars that have become meteorites over the past couple of years, you see them flailing and you wonder why. And maybe it's because they didn't have that connections with their fans."
"I think now everybody feels famous because of the Internet but [it's good] for me to be a regular person and reach my fans directly. I think it's a genius concept.
For the anticipated single "The Art of Letting Go," which is also the title of her 11th solo album, Carey worked with producer Rodney Jerkins, under the guidance of Jermaine Dupri, but don't let the title fool you, because the mother of two isn't pretending to have all of the answers. "I don't think I've mastered the art of letting of go," Carey replied, when asked if we should interpret the title literally. "I think the art of letting go is something that will probably take most people a lifetime to master, so the song can be interpreted however [fans like]. It's one of those things where people are gonna have to feel the song, if they feel it...then they're really gonna feel it in their heart."