Being in the thick of the streaming era of music, there’s an overwhelming feeling of ease when it comes to stars of the past being edged out of the mainstream scene by the fans. The combination of newer music fans
Being in the thick of the streaming era of music, there’s an overwhelming feeling of ease when it comes to stars of the past being edged out of the mainstream scene by the fans. The combination of newer music fans who weren’t present when these stars had their biggest impacts, and loyal older fans who see the tension between these artists’ known abilities and their attempts to sound like the popular artists of today serves as support for the idea that they are out of touch. Usher and Eminem are two people who received these criticisms over this year with their albums A and Kamikaze respectively. Mariah Carey, 2019 nominee for the Songwriters Hall of Fame, may have just steered clear with her new album Caution.
The 10-song project is the 48-year-old songtress’s 15th studio album, and her first since the 2014 disappointment that was Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. Her legacy wasn’t riding on Caution as much as her reputation. Every vet gets a chance to stick around, drop music or comment on the climate without any objection if they so desire, but they’re held to a higher standard so the moment they fall off or start acting crazy some people try to confiscate their passes and get them out. The debacle that was her 2016 performance at Dick Clark‘s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in Times Square made her a laughing stock for some time as well.
Whether she felt any pressure or not, the Songbird Supreme out of New York delivered a solid album that felt very confident, composed and in-touch. The opener, single “GTFO” is produced by the ever so talented Nineteen85 and set a tone of awareness of oneself. She is strong and empowered enough to send a guy packing. Naturally, she gets into her lovey dovey lane as well by teaming up with Ty Dolla $ign for the vibey, slow-roasting crescendo “The Distance,” produced by Skrillex. It’s a very seamless collaboration, and easily a standout track from the album.
There was also the polished, hood love song “Stay Long Love You” featuring upstart Gunna. It’s no shock these Gunna and Ty are mentioned as features, as they’ve worked with nearly every artist out this year. It was a slight surprise to see Gunna work with Mariah so early on and their lack of chemistry was apparent. The beat seemingly favored Mariah a bit more and though Gunna’s effort to mold to her world doesn’t go unnoticed, it wasn’t his best verse.
“Giving Me Life” is quite a treat. A reflective, two-part love song with the first section graced by rap legend Slick Rick. Blood Orange mans the second section, playing a medley of instruments while Carey murmurs angelically. The beat switch is sudden, but it wraps you up in the curiosity of where the song could possibly be going after she and Rick already delivered four great minutes of music. The final two are an experience, truly.
“One Mo’ Gen” is a Wondagurl and Poo Bear-produced request for one more round and exclamation of romantic exclusivity. “Portrait” feels like the cathartic monologue of a woman who has reached her breaking point and although she doesn’t know how to fix her issues, she’s getting them off her chest which is always step one. Jermaine Dupri, DJ Mustard, No I.D., and Timbaland also had a hand in this project’s production, but by no means does Mariah use them as a crutch.
She showed the world that she can still put together a great hook and hit all five octaves over the production people know and love today. She is a legend, but in no way is her grasp on her crown loosening. She made up for her setbacks over the last 4 years, and dropped an overall good album right around the time where people start to make their lists for the best work of the year.
This isn’t to say that it is one of the best of the year, but timing is everything. Fans might not have reacted positively to this album if it dropped right after the mishaps of New Year’s Eve 2016. Now, she’s free of drama and able to show that she’s aging gracefully in music so there’s no need to plan her exit. Stream Caution below.