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Observing Mariah Carey’s masterful use of sampling in her music is one of the best ways of understanding her work and enjoying her gift. Here we will have a quick look into one of her biggest – and probably the most revolutionary – classics.

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At first, something different may catch your attention in the video for “Here We Go Again” (1997) by Aretha Franklin. Be it the presence of another familiar face, that of Jermaine Dupri (an almost omnipresent musical producer in Mariah’s music) or the beat that reminds you of “Fantasy” (1995). Well, that may be because in order to make Aretha’s track, JD used elements from the Bad Boy remix version of “Fantasy”. That means that Mariah, who openly reveres and has been influenced by  Aretha, has influenced her back. But the story of this sound didn’t start and neither did it end there.

 

FROM ROCK TO CLUB…

In 1981, a few members of the band Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer” (1977) – created another musical group called Tom Tom Club so they could explore the club genre. From that, we have been given “Genius Of Love” (1981) which didn’t only succeed in fulfilling the band’s purpose of birthing dancing club music but also succeeded commercially (#1 Hot Dance Play, #2 Hot Soul Single, #24 Mainstream Rock Chart, #31 Billboard Hot 100). Its cultural impact was such that bits of it have been used (in a process called sampling, just like what JD did in “Here We Go Again”), officially, over 100 times. And because of that Mariah, who was 11 years old at the time, listened to “Genius of Love” on the radio many times over the years.

 

…FROM CLUB TO HIP-HOP…

Fourteen years later – or around 60 samples, including the Brazilian Gabriel o Pensador with “Estudo Errado” (1995) – the Mother Lamb achieved exactly the same thing that Tom Tom Club had, with the same song. The Talking Heads members went from rock to club, but she went from pop to hip hop by using a “Genius of Love” sample in “Fantasy”. Previously having written the lyrics and the melody, Mariah thought the “Genius of Love” beat would fit perfectly in “Fantasy”, and so it did. To the raw sample, Dave Hall – “Dreamlover” (1993) – added a few other layers of percussion and to finish the pop to hip-hop bridge, Old Dirty Bastard added a few bars to the Sean Puffy Combs “Bad Boy Remix” . This transition was so shocking to people that to this day, the remix version is very more often reminded than the original/album version.

Mariah Carey thought of using the “Genius of Love” track while listening to it on the radio when she was at an amusement park. The sound of it reminded her of how it used to be like to listen to the radio when she was younger and something clicked. It surely was a Genius addition to the track. The video clip which was also shot at an amusement park, was yet another step forward in Mariah Carey’s career: dissatisfied with the results of her recent videos, Mariah decided to direct this one herself.

 

…FROM HIP-HOP TO THUG-LOVE.

“Fantasy” had many remixes made for it, such as the aforementioned Bad Boy one and another one used to open “The Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour”,  named “Def Club Mix” by David Morales. It was the second track in history to debut at #1 on Billboard Hot 100, making it Mariah’s 9th #1 single, besides hitting #1 on Dance Club Songs and Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs. With it, Mariah simply invented a whole new music genre called Thug-Love Duet, where pop artists feature rappers on their tracks (which all pop stars have done since). After “Fantasy” nothing was the same.

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