Urban Contemporary, 2005
From the heavily airbrushed CD art to the songs on the CD, there is no clue that I can find as to what that title, The Emancipation of Mimi actually means. Is Mariah Carey going to call herself Mimi from now on? Or is that a name that only her shrink can call her? There is nothing particularly new or innovative from her.
It’s Like That, her now predictable uptempo first single, is a little harder and more “street-sounding” than her usual uptempo first singles like Honey, Dreamlover, et cetera, but after that opening track, the CD soon drifts into sounds that feel as if they are lifted from previous CDs of hers. The ballad We Belong Together sounds like something out of her previous Music Box CD, this song oddly enough actually fading out in mid-crescendo. It soon becomes evident that the other ballads are in the same “I can’t tell them apart from her other ballads on this CD or from other CDs” vein. Regarding the ballads, it’s obvious that she can no longer hit the kettle overdrive high notes of yore. That’s understandable. What’s perplexing though is how she and her co-writers and co-producers keep coming up with ballads that require her to display the range that she no longer has. As a result, Ms Carey sounds quite nasal at too many of these ballads, especially when she tries to do an impression of a nose-blocked pugdog at the glory notes.
Shake It Off is like a watered-down version of the fabulous Breakdown from the Butterfly CD. The “Eh, wait, so this isn’t Hot In Herre or some other Nelly tune that sounds alike?” track Get Your Number has Jermaine Dupri trying to pass himself off as Nelly, although oddly enough Nelly has a short guest feature on To the Floor.
Carey’s collaboration with Snoop Doggy Dogg, Say Something, is one of the few unforced and laid-back fun songs here that work. Twista offers some help in One and Only, another fabulous track that unfortunately sounds too much to Breakdown at times.
At the end of the day, there aren’t any breakout tracks or catchy ballads that will allow Mariah Carey to conquer the airwaves or sales charts like she used to do in the previous decade. That won’t be a problem if the CD is worth a listen. Well, it is for people who know what to expect from darling Mimi here. The Emancipation of Mimi is after all a safe and formulaic Mariah Carey CD. What she needs to do is to come up with a reason why anyone should still care for her music. A CD of safe and predictable tunes doesn’t seem to be that reason.