Never let it be said that being a top-selling superstar is easy work. No matter how much glamour there seems to be in shooting videos, attending awards shows and other seemingly fabulous activities, there's just as much hard work and stress behind it. Just ask New York City's own Mariah Carey on this particularly hot and humid east coast day. Her Puffy-produced, hip hop-changed single, "Honey," hit almost every radio station in the country last week, her way-sexy video (the talk of the town) is already in heavy rotation, she's regularly on top of the goings-on at her Crave Records label and she's still struggling to put the finishing touches on her soon-to-be-released Butterfly disc. Though she's just as approachable and best friend-like chatty as the first time we made each other's acquaintance, she's not quite giving up the fact that there are legal matters to work out yet another thing lingering in the back of her mind. But there are certainly other things to discuss.
Suspiciously leaking out to the media, just weeks prior to the release of "Honey," almost like a publicity stunt, was the fact that she and her husband, Tommy Mottola, were on the verge of an amicable divorce. This, of course, sent gossip mavens into over-drive. "Mariah's dating Puffy!" Mariah's been seen with Donald Trump." "Q-Tip and Mariah are now a couple." "Mariah and Boyz II Men's Wanya have been seen together." Now vulnerable to all sorts of speculation, due to her new single status, there definitely wasn't any shortage of "words on the street." "I don't even focus on that," Mariah says of the various stories circulating. "I can't control the spin that people put on things. If someone else has an agenda where they want to make me look bad, then I can't help it. I just try to handle everything with dignity and really separate myself, so I can do the right thing for everybody, especially lately with all this drama." So what about these likewise available fellas? "They're (the media) linking me with anybody I work with," she nonchalantly construes. "Please! Wanya and I are like good friends; he's one of my best friends. That's ridiculous. If anyone says anything else, then they're really pushing it. So if an assistant engineer comes in the room, then I got a new man. They even said I was with Donald Trump. So who's next?" "Me!," I quickly retort, dreaming up my own name in the mix. "Well let's do it," she jokes. "Let's start that one with this article."
Then who is Mariah singing "Honey" to anyway? "It's just a song now!," she playfully snaps. "It's up to interpretation. I'm sure each person will get something slightly different from it, maybe even something relating to their own lives."
One thing's sure, and that's the fact that we're all bearing witness to a slightly new Mariah, one who has her eyes set on even bigger success in the music world and Hollywood too. Her "Honey" video displays a bit of the results of the acting classes she's been attending, revealing an even more relaxed (even humorous) Carey. She's even busting a few steps and seems more relaxed in flaunting that curvy physique that drives her male fans crazy. Perhaps readying herself for the world of film, Mariah admits that she dreamt up the storyboards for the video herself, before enlisting popular video director Paul Hunter. Shot in Puerto Rico during some of its hottest weather, Mariah's seen dancing with a squad of sailors, flirting with a model-looking guy on the beach, jet skiing and other things probably assumed unlikely for the freed butterfly. "The video was my whole concept," Miss C explains. "Paul and I talked about it for a while, and I collaborated on it. I got up at 3 a.m. everyday, and worked until like 9 in the morning the next day for four days in a row. But I loved being down in Puerto Rico. And that is really me swimming in my Gucci pumps! I can't say that I really jumped off the roof, but I did dive into the pool. But I wear and swim in those pumps, and I was not happy."
Where Butterfly, the soon-to-be-released disc is concerned, it doesn't take long to realize that MC's moving in a decidedly urban/R&B direction this go 'round. Outside of productions done by herself, Puffy and the obligatory power ballads with longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff, she's once again teamed up with dance music's renowned remixer/producer David Morales and even did a track with Missy and Timbaland. "It's a song called 'Baby Doll,'" she says of her collaborative effort with Missy. "I had the hook already, as well as a melody and lyric for the chorus. Then she and I collaborated on a new melody for the verses, and we did the first verse, and the second half of the second. Verse together. It's one of my favorite things on the album." Apparently, Mariah called her a while ago about getting together (before Supa Dupa Fly came out), after hearing "all the Aaliyah stuff." Recalling the fact that she actually went to Missy and Timbaland's native Virginia to record it, Carey admits, "I had a good time working with Missy, and you can definitely tell that her flavor comes through on this song." Though she and Corey Rooney, her good friend and Executive Vice President of Black Music at Crave Records produced the version that exists, she anticipates Timbaland's schedule to permit his final production, or at least a remix. "I like his sound and the little things he uses," Carey states.
Outside of rumors that Dru Hill and Bone Thugs will be making appearances on Butterfly (something she doesn't touch on), she's enthusiastic about bringing David Morales' house sound to her mix. "David Morales and I did a mix of 'Butterfly' (the title track) that's on the album," she elucidates. "'Butterfly' is a ballad, but the interlude of it is called 'Fly Away,' and it's like a twist on the original record. Actually, when I wrote 'Butterfly,' I had a house record in mind, but then I started thinking about it while writing it, and I turned it into a ballad. But I had to do the other one too, so they're both on the album." Done with Morales, who also did various mixes and production from her multi-platinum Daydream disc, Mariah then goes into the stories of going back into the studio to record vocals especially for the slew of remixes Morales came up with for "Honey" and "Butterfly." Says MC, "He's got so many mixes of these songs it's crazy! They came out really good." "Mariah will eventually be releasing a compilation of her best stuff with David Morales," Corey Rooney divulges, "and adding four new dance tunes too. It's gonna be crazy!"
As we continue our conversation, that appears quite evident. No doubt, Mariah will embark on a hectic schedule of activities to promote Butterfly. Amidst the possibilities of touring and a rumored movie project in the works, she and Rooney have the daily business of running Crave Records. With a seven-year friendship under them, Carey fully trust Rooney's eyes and ears for talent and good music. "We want to have all kinds of stuff," Rooney says of the direction of the roster. "As far as I'm concerned, whatever moves your soul or makes you dance, are the kinds of things we want to get into. We definitely want to develop a strong dance music department, a gospel music department, R&B, rock, alternative, everything. So we're just taking the steps." So far, they've experienced moderate success with Allure, who will be followed by a dance act called DJ Company, a Detroit-based R&B act called Seven Mile, and a rap act out of Mariah's native Long Island called Neggrow League. "I just want to create the opportunities for up and coming artists that I had," Mariah shares, "and the ones I didn't have."