Rainbow is Mariah Carey's seventh studio album that was released on November 2, 1999 by Columbia Records.
- Heartbreaker (featuring Jay-Z) 4:46
- Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme) 4:32
- Bliss 5:44
- How Much (featuring Usher) 3:30
- After Tonight 4:15
- X-Girlfriend 3:58
- Heartbreaker (Remix) (featuring Da Brat, Missy Elliot & DJ Clue?) 4:36
- Vulnerability (Interlude) 1:12
- Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) 3:25
- Crybaby (featuring Snoop Dogg) 5:19
- Did I Do That? 4:15
- Petals 4:23
- Rainbow (Interlude) 1:32
- Thank God I Found You (featuring Joe & 98 Degrees) 4:17
During the spring of 1999, Mariah Carey began working on the final album of her record contract with Sony, her ex-husband's label. Her lover at the time, Luis Miguel, was in the midst of a European tour.
In order to spend more time with Miguel, she opted to record the album on the secluded island of Capri, Italy, figuring that the seclusion would also help her complete the album sooner.
During this time, Carey's strained relationship with Sony affected her work with writing partner Afanasieff, who had worked extensively with Carey throughout the first half of her career.
Aside from their growing creative differences, Mottola had given Afanasieff more opportunities to work with other artists. She felt Mottola was trying to separate Carey from Afanasieff, in hopes of keeping their relationship permanently strained.
Due to the pressure and the awkward relationship Carey had now developed with Sony, she completed the album in a period of three months in the summer of 1999, quicker than any of her other albums.
In an interview with Blitz TV, Carey spoke of her decision to record the album in Capri, saying: "I love New York. But if I'm there, I want to go out, friends come to the studio, the phone rings constantly. But in Capri, I am in a remote place, and there is no one I can run into. I felt that in Capri I would be able to effectively finish the album on a shorter schedule. And I did. I made it in three months, I was like 'Get me off this label!' I couldn't take it. The situation there [Sony] was becoming increasingly difficult."
Like her previous releases, Carey co-wrote and co-produced the album's material, working with several hip hop and R&B producers such as Jay-Z, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Jermaine Dupri, and Brian Michael Cox.
For the album's debut single release, she collaborated with Jay-Z and DJ Clue. During the spring of 1999, Carey began working with Clue on several hooks and melodies for the lead single. After a few hours, they decided to include a hip hop star on the track, which eventually led to Jay-Z.
Carey's longtime friend and back-up vocalist Trey Lorenz added "some soft male [back-up] vocals." She worked with Lewis and Jam on the ballad "Thank God I Found You."
Carey had already been in the studio with the duo several times when she contacted them to meet her at the studio, where she told them that she had come up with the title, hook, and melody.
Usually, when Carey was writing the songs for the album, James "Big Jim" Wright would play the organ or piano and assist Carey to find the "right melody."
However, since Wright was not present, Lewis played the organ while Carey directed him with her lower registers, providing the chord progression. They composed the song and recorded Carey's vocals.
Knowing she wanted to introduce a male vocalist on the track, Lewis brought R&B singer Joe and pop group 98 Degrees into the studio. After a few hours, the group and Joe had recorded all their vocals and the song was completed.
In an interview with Bronson, Lewis discussed the night Carey wrote "Thank God I Found You: "It all happened that night. She told us the title of the song, the concept and sang us the melody. We usually have Big Jim Wright sit in on those kind of sessions to work out the chords. he wasn't there so I had to work on the chord myself. So I was playing and there was a part where I said 'Man, what chord am I supposed to do here?' and Mariah has such a good ear that she sang me the chord."
While the album was immersed further into mainstream R&B territory, Carey included some of her classic ballads and tender love songs on the album, working with writers and producers such as David Foster and Diane Warren.
The idea to work with Warren was suggested by Foster, who thought that the two would be able to "hammer out one hell of a ballad" together. The two wrote and produced the song titled "After Tonight."
Carey felt the song was a perfect metaphor for her relationship with Miguel, describing their romance in Capri. While the song was deemed a success by both parties, they described their working relationship with mixed feelings.
According to Foster (who was involved in the writing session), Carey and Warren would not always agree on the lyrics and melodious structure of the song. He described it as a "give and take relationship"; Warren would offer lyrics and Carey would not like them; she wanted something more intricate and detailed.
Carey would produce a hook or lyrics that Warren did not feel were a perfect fit. In the end, Foster felt that they worked "well together."
After recording the song, Carey invited Miguel to record the song with her as a duet; however, after recording his verses several times, Foster and Carey realized that the song would not turn out the way they planned.
Foster said the song's key was "too high for him"; the voices did not harmonize well and Carey didn't have time to re-record her vocals in a lower key to accommodate Miguel's verses. Miguel (who was furious over the failed collaboration) later sent a cut-up tape of the demo to Foster.
Carey, Warren, and Foster also wrote "Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)," one of the other ballads featured on the album.
"Rainbow" mixed hip hop and R&B-flavored upbeat songs with softer and lyrically intense ballads resembling those that Carey had previously recorded.
"Heartbreaker," Carey's first collaboration with Jay-Z, used a sample from "Attack of the Name Game," recorded by Stacy Lattisaw, as its hook. The loop originated from "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis; Ellis and co-writer Lincoln Chase are credited as songwriters on the track.
Carey incorporated the hook into the song's melody, and added instrumentation. Lyrically, the song chronicles the heartbreak the protagonist feels after learning of her lover's infidelity.
"Thank God I Found You" features vocals from Joe and 98 Degrees, as well as songwriting and production from Carey and Lewis
According to Carey, the song reflects on events in her own life at the time, with the lyrics describing the completion the protagonist feels after "finding" their lover. Joe provides the main male vocal throughout each verse, and 98 Degrees sing the background vocals and the bridge.
Prior to the album's recording, Mariah and her sister, Alison Carey had a falling out in their relationship. Alison had contracted AIDS in 1988 when she was 27 years old; in 1994, she blamed Mariah for many of her problems & heartbreaks throughout the years. Her children were taken away while she received treatment for AIDS and for mental health issues.
Carey wrote a song titled "Petals," which she describes as the most honest lyrics she has ever written. The song tells of her feelings for her sister, while illustrating the pain Allison's betrayal and suffering have caused.
In an interview with Bronson, Carey described the meaning of the lyrics of "Petals", saying: "It is a great outlet for me to go into the studio and write a song like 'Petals', which is one of my most personal songs and remains one of my favorites. I think [it had the most] honest lyrics I've ever written. The song chronicles a lot of past emotions I've felt to certain people close to me, and the way I feel towards them and how their actions have impacted me personally. For that reason, I sang in my lower registers, trying to add that breathy effect to go hand in hand with the song's composition."
"After Tonight" was a song Carey wrote with David Foster and Diane Warren. Carey had strong feelings about the song, as she wrote it about her relationship with Luis Miguel.
The song was compared instrumentally to "My All" from Butterfly, which features traces of Latin and guitar instrumentation. In the lyrics, the protagonist asks her lover if he will still love her and come back to her "after tonight."
Carey's cover of the Phil Collins song "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" was originally intended to be a solo ballad. The song was re-done after the album was released, with music by the Irish band Westlife replacing the song's instrumental bridge.
"Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" was one of the album's most uplifting ballads, lyrically serving as an anthem for fans and listeners.
According to Carey, the message was a personal theme of hers growing up, of not letting others "bring her down" and not allowing them to take away the light inside her.
"How Much" is a duet with Usher and features a sample from Tupac Shakur's "Me and My Girlfriend."
"Rainbow" debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 with 323,000 units sold, making it the highest first-week sales of Carey's career at the time.
The album was certified triple platinum by the RIAA, denoting shipments of 3 million copies throughout the United States. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album's sales in the United States are estimated at 2,968,000 copies.
Worldwide, "Rainbow" has sold an estimated eight million copies.
"Rainbow" received positive reviews from critics, many of whom noted the new direction in Carey's music.
In Entertainment Weekly, Danyel Smith wrote that "what began on Butterfly as a departure ends up on Rainbow a progression – perhaps the first compelling proof of Carey's true colors as an artist."
Arion Berger from Rolling Stone viewed it as a genuine R&B and hip hop album, a "sterling chronicle of the state of accessible hip-hop balladeering at the close of 1999."
Aside from calling some of the ballads "banal," Berger concluded his review, writing: "Rainbow is at its best—and Carey at her most comfortable—when urbane hip-hop stylings and faux R&B coexist in smooth middle-of-the-road harmony."
Elysa Gardner from the Los Angeles Times wrote in her review: "Exhibiting an emotional authority to match her technical prowess, Carey gives us a vision of love that's dynamic without being ostentatious."
Steve Jones from USA Today deemed the record "colorful" and "some of her most compelling work."
Village Voice critic Robert Christgau gave the album a two-star honorable mention, indicating a "likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy." He cited "Heartbreaker" and "Crybaby" as highlights while writing that Carey was "not a 'real' r&b thrush, but good enough to fake it."
Amy Linden from Vibe was less impressed by the album, particularly the songs on which Carey sings over hip hop samples or alongside guest rappers, deeming it a commonplace formula--"pairing a singing thrush with a rhyming thug."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic said it was "the first Carey album where she's written personal lyrics, and allusions to her separation from Mottola."
He called the lyrics "true" and "deep," but found the songs "ballad-heavy" and "repetitious," adding that the album followed the formula of Carey's previous records too precisely.
In his opinion, "it would have been a more effective album if the heartbreak, sorrow, and joy that bubbles underneath the music were brought to the surface."