Known for silky smooth falsetto vocals, Mariah Carey is one of the most technically skilled R’n’B vocalists ever. From ‘We Belong Together’ to ‘One Sweet Day’, the singer boasts a multitude of hits and has secured an astounding 19 number ones, second to only The Beatles. That said, Carey has used her vocals in various different ways and, as a versatile artist, has explored many genres over the years. A far cry from just a soul vocalist, in 1995, Carey worked alongside Ol’ Dirty Bastard of the WU-Tang Clan and, there was an undeniable chemistry between the two, although there were some hiccups during the recording process.
Following the success of Carey’s 1995 number-one single ‘Fantasy’, her producer and co-writer Dave Hall urged the vocalist to record a rugged, hip-hop crossover remix. At first, Carey wasn’t so keen. However, eventually agreeing to the notion, Hall sought a producer to make the track. Hall delegated the remix to Puff Daddy, who, alongside Bad Boy producer Nashiem Myrick, beefed up and tweaked the song to perfection.
As well as Mariah’s track, Puff was working with Method Man for Biggie’s ‘The What?’ and producing a phenomenal remix for the Wu-Tang Clan. As he was already working with members of the Staten Island collective, the producer and Bad Boy Entertainment mogul knew one at least one emcee would be willing to jump on a song with Carey.
In a 2016 Billboard magazine retrospective article about the career of Mariah Carey, former member of her team, the Sony Records A&R representative Cory Rooney recalled his experience working on the collaborative remix. According to Rooney, Puff Daddy got paid $60,000 upfront to produce the remix but emphasised that Mariah sought out ODB. He disclosed that Carey was a fan of the Wu-Tang rapper and was keen to work with him.
During his interview with Billboard magazine, Rooney elaborated on the emcee’s abrasive demeanour recalling: “I reached out to O.D.B. and he wanted $15,000 to rap on the record. At the time, that was a lot of money, but it really wasn’t for Mariah Carey’s budget — so, no problem. He finally showed up, three hours late, and when he got there, it was about 10:30 at night. He had been drinking, and was on the phone when he walked in. Irate, screaming at some girl how he’s gonna come kill her, he’s going to kick her ass…and then whispering, ‘I love you.’ Then screaming again. This went on for an hour!”
Highlighting how Carey wasn’t at the studio, but was at home with her husband Tommy Mottola, Rooney continued: “At this point, Mariah had been calling every hour on the hour, wanting to hear something over the phone. Tommy was pissed because Mariah was keeping him up, so he finally got on the phone with O.D.B. — and after that, we finally started to record.”
He continued: “He said one line — ‘me and Mariah, go back like babies with pacifiers’ — then paused, said, ‘Yo, I need to take a break,’ and went to sleep for 45 minutes. He woke up and was like, ‘Yo, let me hear what I did so far.’ We played his one line back; he sang another line or two and then slept for another hour. He would come up with a line, punch that in, go to sleep. He went to sleep three different times in the middle of trying to get that one verse done. If you listen to the record now, on his verse, you can hear that it’s punched in pieces. He actually told the engineer, ‘Y’all better have your sh*t set and record it right, cause I’m not doing it twice.'”
Rooney insisted that his experience with ODB in the studio was horrific, but admitted at the video shoot the Brooklyn artist did seem to get on very well with Carey. However, for Rooney that was all overshadowed by his memories of ODB charging and extra $15,000 for the video shoot and asking for them to provide luxury brands. Overall the Sony executive believes that the Wu-Tang emcee may have fleeced Sony out of at least $45,000. You can watch the music featuring the pair video below.