Mariah Carey is just getting started on her new album. And although she hasn't said yet who she'll be working with, if some of her recent collaborations are any indication, we could be in for some surprises.

First, Carey recorded a track with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony for the group's comeback album, Strength and Loyalty, due April 17, according to the group's label rep. "She promised that she was gonna do a song with us once, and she kept her promise," Krayzie Bone previously told MTV News (see "Bone Thugs Dropping Two New LPs; Second Disc To Feature Dre, Kanye, Mariah").

Carey not only kept her word, but she brought along Bow Wow to sweeten her offering on the song "Lil L.O.V.E." "I call it 'Little Little,' " she told MTV Europe. "It's a favorite of mine. It's a nice song, and I think it really kind of gives you the back-in-the-day Bone vibe but also a very new take on who they are as artists."

Carey said that she and other artists owe a debt to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony because their influence is so widespread in rap and hip-hop. "A lot of times people are like, 'I will make up a part,' and people actually think they made up that part," she said. "But I am so influenced by their style that it kind of merges together. It's funny, because so many artists today are influenced by Bone, and they may not even realize it."

Carey's got another influence her fans might not recognize — at least for the song in her upcoming movie "Tennessee." Her character, Krystal, is a waitress — just like Carey's role in 2002's "WiseGirls" — but this time, she's also an aspiring songwriter. Through the course of the story, as she joins two brothers on their journey to find their estranged father, she writes a song and performs it in a bar.

Krystal's song is being co-written by Carey and Willie Nelson. Carey hasn't shot the scene yet (it will be filmed next week), but in another part of the movie, she'll hint at her influence by singing a bit of Nelson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night" a cappella, according to the film's rep.

"This character is really far from who I am in a lot of ways," Carey said. "There are some parallels, some internal things, nothing that people would ever look at and go, 'That's very Mariah.' But this is not me at all. The character is so not what you would think. This is not about hairdos and ensembles. The girl's in the trenches. And I'm the third lead, so it's nice to work with an ensemble cast and to really just be able to do my work and go home at night."

Carey started shooting "Tennessee" in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, last month. She's back there shooting this week, before shooting her bar scenes in Nashville and wrapping her one month of production. No release date has been set for the film.

Meanwhile, her next album, "which is really early on in the creative process," is due this fall, according to her label rep.