fringe makeover, Brat says, “Tommy
Mottola didn’t want
that. He didn’t want her on
that level. He didn't even want her associating with rappers like that. She
fought for that, because Mariah’s got a little hood in her.”
fight was victorious, igniting a wave of collaborations in the dirty-pop vein
of “Fantasy" and “Heartbreaker.” Jennifer Lopez teamed
up with Ja Rule for two of her biggest singles, “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny
(Murder Remix).”Fergie, who first broke on the scene as the hook singer of The
Black Eyed Peas, collaborated with Ludacris on her solo release. Christina
Aguilera teamed up with Redman. And Ashanti found success with a number of
rappers. By 2002, the format was so popular that the GRAMMYs introduced an
award for the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, which eventually went to Beyonce and
Jay Z for “Crazy in Love.”
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“She set the trend," Brat says of Carey, whose
influence is clearly seen in a number of today’s young artists -- even if
today’s new generation of singers don’t realize the path they’re following.
"All the new R&B and younger pop artists should
worship the ground Mariah walks on because she paved the way in so many
different ways by trying different things that the world didn't necessarily
agree with,” she adds. “And that's what these new artists lack -- they lack
appreciation, and they lack respect.”
While Carey has always straddled the worlds of pop and
R&B, the hip-hop element has increasingly become popular among today’s pop
divas. Earlier this year, Taylor Swift joined forces with Kendrick Lamar for
the remix of "Bad Blood
." Also in 2015:
Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea famously banded together for "Pretty Girls
FLASHBACK: Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' Turns 20!
“The 'Fantasy' remix set the template for what pop has
become,” Norris says. "It's almost a given now that pop songs will have a
hip-hop element to them. Those two elements are almost a requirement to get on
pop radio today.”
But as the format has become more popular, "the
collaborations we see are not nearly as unexpected," Norris adds.
Unexpected or just unimpressive?
According to Brat, those to follow Carey are just attempting
to capture a vibe that singer simply embodied. “Mariah was already edgy, so to
me, it merged better,” she says. “The gelling between Mariah and ODB -- they
were in the studio together, and he was probably smoking weed and she was, you
know, probably sippin’ her
wine. A true artist can tell how the process went.”
FLASHBACK: A 22-Year-Old Celine Dion Admires Madonna, Mariah, and Whitney
Nobody then was bridging pop and hip-hop on such a massive
level -- at least nobody as mainstream, or as universally adored as Carey. And
it was a win-win, both for Carey's career and the hip-hop community.
"The whole hip-hop community and R&B world -- we
loved it,” Brat says. “Finally we had somebody to take us over to the pop side.
It was just incredible.”
But it goes beyond the approval of one or two genres. “’Fantasy’
is the most important recording she’s
ever done," Norris adds.