top of page

Today in R&B History | Mariah Carey Released Her Sixth Studio Album 'Butterfly'

Twenty three years ago today, Mariah Carey released "Butterfly." The album, which hit shelves Sept. 16, 1997, marked a pivotal moment in Carey's career, not least because it followed her very public split from music exec Tommy Mottola.

The title was symbolic - Carey was coming into her own. Her clothing style grew noticeably sexier. She was more playful with her fans, more frank in interviews.

But most importantly, the album introduced Carey, largely considered a pop singer, as a veritable hip-hop collaborator.

"Butterfly" found Carey working with hip-hop heavyweights including Sean "Puffy" Combs (now known as Diddy), Q-Tip, Stevie J and Missy Elliott.

She had dabbled in the genre on her previous album, "Daydream," which featured multiple collaborations with So So Def founder Jermaine Dupri and R&B hitmaker Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.

Carey famously recruited Wu Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard for the remix to her 1995 single "Fantasy," her first co-effort with Combs.

Mariah and Ol' Dirty Bastard

With guest verses from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Mase, The Lox and Mobb Deep, "Butterfly" proved Carey was more than comfortable in the hip-hop space.

Collaborating with rappers had been commonplace for R&B singers, including Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige and Total in the mid-90s, but it was relatively new terrain for pop stars.

"Butterfly" - and Carey's subsequent collaborations with rappers including Jay-Z, Nas, Cam'ron and Snoop Dogg - helped pave the way for other pop stars (looking at you Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry) to sing alongside their rap contemporaries.

Listen to Butterfly down below.

The album is available for purchase on Apple Music.



bottom of page