August 16, 2022

In The Quantity Ones, I’m reviewing each single #1 single within the historical past of the Billboard Scorching 100, beginning with the chart’s starting, in 1958, and dealing my approach up into the current.

Mariah Carey was out the door. Ever since her profession began in 1990, Mariah had been signed to Columbia Data, and he or she had nearly definitely been the most important and most vital artist on the label’s roster. By 1999, the state of affairs wasn’t tenable anymore. Tommy Mottola was the top of the entire Sony Music umbrella, which included Columbia. He’d found and signed Mariah. He’d then grow to be her husband and, 4 years later, her ex. Mariah didn’t need to take care of Mottola anymore. She wished out.

For just about her whole tenure at Columbia, Mariah had been battling with Mottola and different related label functionaries about her artistic route. In her marriage to Mottola, she felt like she was in jail. When she bought herself out of that state of affairs, Mariah wished to depart the label, however she nonetheless owed the label another studio album. That file was 1999’s Rainbow, which Mariah wrote and recorded in a quick-for-her three-month interval. As soon as Rainbow was performed, Mariah battled additional with Columbia, arguing over issues like album promotion and single selection.

Rainbow turned out to be the lowest-selling studio album of Mariah’s complete Columbia run. Humorous factor about that, although: A relative flop for Mariah Carey would’ve been a career-highlight smash for just about another artist. Mariah’s worst-performing album of the ’90s nonetheless went triple platinum, and it nonetheless despatched two singles straight to #1. The primary of these two #1 singles additionally labored as a sort of coronation for the most important, finest rapper of the second.

Mariah Carey recorded “Heartbreaker,” the primary single from Rainbow, with DJ Clue, a Queens native who’d made himself a key determine within the New York rap world. Clue began off as a mixtape DJ, placing collectively semi-illicit compilations of recent tracks that offered on road corners. (When Clue began within the mid-’90s, mixtapes had been precise cassettes. Through the years, they’d evolve to grow to be CDs after which downloads, and they might proceed to have a serious affect on rap music for many years to come back.) Clue was a relentless self-promoter, and I principally keep in mind him because the man who continuously shouted his personal identify on mixtapes, slathering his voice in echo and tripping all around the beats.

Clue ultimately bought a slot on New York rap radio, and he additionally based the Elektra-distributed label Desert Storm Data in 1997, taking part in a giant position within the growth of East Coast rappers like Fabolous and Joe Budden. In 1998, Clue additionally launched his studio album The Skilled, a sort of official model of one in every of his road mixtapes. This was one thing new: Main labels attempting to maintain up with the road financial system by providing a comparatively sanitized and streamlined model of a chaotic grassroots phenomenon.

The Skilled ultimately went platinum, and Clue spent the summer time of 1999 on the Onerous Knock Life tour, an enormous enviornment trek with Jay-Z, DMX, and Methodology Man and Redman. Mariah Carey had labored with a number of rap producers by the point she linked up with Clue, however they had been principally crossover-friendly varieties like Puff Daddy and Jermaine Dupri, individuals who had as a lot expertise with pop and R&B as they did with rap. Clue, then again, was a full-on street-rap determine with no pop expertise in any respect. Clue later informed Billboard {that a} mutual good friend had launched him to Mariah, and I’ve to think about that her resolution to work with Clue was at the least partially a rebellious factor. Mariah genuinely beloved rap, and Clue may provide her entry to any variety of rap collaborators. However Clue would’ve additionally been precisely the kind of producer who Tommy Mottola and his buddies would merely not perceive.

Working with Mariah, Clue had the thought to pattern a track that he’d at all times preferred: “Assault Of The Identify Recreation,” a cool and rubbery 1982 monitor from the R&B little one star Stacy Lattisaw. (Lattisaw’s highest-charting single, 1980’s “Let Me Be Your Angel,” peaked at #21.) “Assault Of The Identify Recreation,” which had solely reached at #70 on the Scorching 100, was the sort of file that Mariah Carey beloved. It was bubbly and foolish and catchy — a membership jam for an easier period. Lattisaw did some extraordinarily primitive early rapping on the track, nevertheless it wasn’t actually a rap file. “Assault Of The Identify Recreation” had one thing else going for it: It was a bald ripoff of the Tom Tom Membership’s 1981 membership hit “Genius Of Love,” the monitor that Mariah Carey had sampled on her 1995 mega-smash “Fantasy.” When “Heartbreaker” got here out, some critics thought that Mariah had simply used that “Genius Of Love” pattern once more. You possibly can forgive their confusion. Mariah hadn’t gone as far as to do that, however she was by no means above repeating herself.

“Heartbreaker” is an early instance of the unusual phenomenon of double samples. “Assault Of The Identify Recreation” was a form of pop-rap riff on “The Identify Recreation,” the banana-fanna-fo-fanna track that the majority of us keep in mind as a factor that you simply sing in kindergarten. “The Identify Recreation” looks like “Comfortable Birthday” — a type of songs that’s merely at all times existed. However like “Comfortable Birthday,” “The Identify Recreation” does have a particular historical past. Shirley Ellis, a Bronx-born soul singer who had a number of success with novelty songs, co-wrote and recorded “The Identify Recreation” in 1964, and her single reached #3. (It’s a 6.) “Heartbreaker” doesn’t have something to do with “The Identify Recreation,” actually; it simply takes the effervescent groove from “Assault Of The Identify Recreation.” However since “Heartbreaker” is predicated on a pattern, Shirley Ellis and her “Identify Recreation” co-writer Lincoln Chase each bought writing credit on “Heartbreaker.”

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When Lattisaw recorded “Assault Of The Identify Recreation,” she labored with a few faces that will grow to be acquainted. Randy Jackson, the longer term American Idol decide, performed bass on “Assault Of The Identify Recreation.” Narada Michael Walden, the hitmaking producer who now performs in Journey with Jackson, produced and co-wrote the track. Walden occurs to be the man who co-produced “Imaginative and prescient Of Love,” Mariah Carey’s very #1 hit, and he ended up getting a writing credit score on her 14th #1 hit with out really having to do something. (Jeff Cohen, Walden’s “Assault Of The Identify Recreation” co-writer, additionally bought a credit score.) It’s sort of a full-circle factor. Carey had come out of club-friendly ’80s R&B-pop, and Narada Michael Walden was most likely the most important producer of that complete model of music. By the late ’90s, that sound had grow to be a nostalgic reference-point, however Mariah Carey was nonetheless going sturdy. I’m positive that wasn’t misplaced on her.

For “Heartbreaker,” DJ Clue chopped up the percolating synth groove from “Assault Of The Identify Recreation,” and Mariah Carey, appearing as co-producer, layered up her personal vocals and people of her “I’ll Be There” collaborator Trey Lorenz. “Heartbreaker” is straightforward sufficient — a helpless ode to a horny jerk who retains Mariah’s curiosity though she ought to know higher. Right here’s how Mariah describes the track in Fred Bronson’s Billboard E book Of #1 Hits: “It was from the standpoint of ladies who hold going again to that very same man and so they can’t assist themselves. They knew they’re going to get damage. I’ve been a type of ladies, so I do know there’s a number of them on the market.”

“Heartbreaker” is likely to be a track a couple of troublesome romantic state of affairs, however Mariah doesn’t make it sound that approach. As an alternative, the track is mild and completely satisfied and perhaps even rapturous. Mariah’s narrator is into this heartbreaker, and he or she retains repeating the phrase “gimme your love,” turning a plea right into a central riff. The track itself doesn’t have a lot to say in regards to the topic of heartbreakers, nevertheless it does have an awesome little earworm of a refrain: “Heartbreaker, you bought the very best of me/ However I simply carry on coming again incessantly.” Mariah’s use of “incessantly” is likely to be my favourite factor about “Heartbreaker,” nevertheless it’s not the one SAT phrase that she works into the lyrics. We additionally get “disarming,” “euphoric,” “relinquish.” Generally, Mariah Carey comes off like a middle-school honor scholar who’s been requested to make use of a vocab phrase in a sentence. It’s an inclination that I’ve at all times discovered, um, disarming.

In any case, “Heartbreaker” is much less of a lyrical indictment and extra of a love track. Mariah’s narrator is clearly into this heartbreaker determine, or at the least she’s into the sensation that this particular person provides her. In that approach, and in a number of others, “Heartbreaker” comes off as a transparent try to copy what Mariah had already performed with “Fantasy” 4 years earlier. When she made that monitor, Mariah made positive to line up a verse from the Wu-Tang Clan chaos agent Ol’ Soiled Bastard on the remix. When she made “Heartbreaker,” Mariah went out and bought one other New York rapper. However whereas “Heartbreaker” looks like an echo of “Fantasy,” the casting of the “Heartbreaker” guest-rapper makes an entire totally different assertion. The place Ol’ Soiled Bastard introduced a pressure of antic, freewheeling silliness to the “Fantasy” remix, Jay-Z, Mariah’s “Heartbreaker” collaborator, radiates ice-cold management. Jay is aware of that he’s the heartbreaker of the track, and he’s completely satisfied to play that position.

It may be somewhat disorienting to review the Scorching 100 charts from your individual adolescence. A whole lot of the most important Billboard hits is likely to be songs that you simply barely keep in mind, whereas the figures who you considered absolute titans is likely to be little greater than afterthoughts. That’s what’s taking place with me proper now. Jay-Z ultimately grew to become a chart staple, and we’ll see him on this column just a few extra instances, nevertheless it’ll be a protracted whereas earlier than Jay arrives right here as a lead artist. Each time we see Jay on this column, he’ll seem alongside a feminine R&B singer. Mariah Carey was merely the primary.

In any case, Jay-Z was not a constant crossover hitmaker in 1999, which is wild to me. I keep in mind Jay being all over the place throughout that stretch. He was the undisputed, unchallenged king of New York and of rap on the whole. Strolling round a school neighborhood on a weekend evening in 1999, you’d hear Jay information banging out of each single celebration. On the time, although, Jay’s greatest hit as lead artist was 1998’s inescapable Annie-sampling “Onerous Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” and that track one way or the other peaked at #15. Earlier than “Heartbreaker,” Jay had solely been within the high 10 as soon as — as a visitor on Cunning Brown’s “I’ll Be,” a #7 hit in 1997. (It’s a 6.)

Jay-Z had a protracted highway to the highest. Shawn Corey Carter was conceived by Gloria Carter and Adnes Reeves, who made love underneath a sycamore tree, which made him a extra sicker MC destined for greatness. See, he was born in sewage, born to make bomb music. (On the day that Jay was born, a day that Jay has since immortalized in track, the #1 single in America was the Beatles’ “Come Collectively.”) Jay grew up in Brooklyn’s Marcy Homes initiatives, and he went to some totally different excessive faculties earlier than dropping out to promote crack on corners. Jay would at all times describe this come-up in mythic phrases, and he did it so properly that many people got here to think about him in mythic phrases. That’s self-actualization at work.

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Whereas dealing medicine, Jay fell underneath the tutelage of Jaz-O, a rapper from the Marcy initiatives who’d scored a take care of EMI. Jay appeared on just a few of Jaz’s early tracks, just like the deeply foolish 1989 single “Hawaiian Sophie,” which might later grow to be ammunition for the numerous rappers gunning for Jay’s throne. However Jaz-O was hitless; he wouldn’t make the Scorching 100 till he made a visitor look on Jay-Z’s unbelievable 1999 single “Jigga What, Jigga Who,” which peaked at #84. Jay additionally grew to become pleasant with Brooklyn rap star Huge Daddy Kane. Generally, Jay would come out and freestyle at Kane’s reveals when Kane was altering costumes. In 1994, Jay additionally appeared alongside fellow future Mariah collaborator Ol’ Soiled Bastard on Kane’s posse lower “Present & Show.” (Huge Daddy Kane’s solely Scorching 100 hit is the 1993 Spinderella collab “Very Particular,” which peaked at #31. This appears very mistaken, however there it’s.)

Within the mid-’90s, Jay-Z appeared on tracks from New York rappers like Huge L and Mic Geronimo, and he saved his identify effervescent. On these songs and on the freestyles that you could find on the market within the ether, Jay proved his mastery of the fast-rap model that was well-liked on the time. However Jay’s music profession wasn’t too busy. He had an entire different profession to fret about. Through the years, Jay has made many references to his time shifting massive portions of illicit substances in Southern states. It’s exhausting to know what number of of Jay’s tales are fact and what number of are legend, however by all accounts, Jay did very properly for himself as a drug distributor. The rumor was that Jay had made a fortune within the streets and that he put a few of that cash into creating his rap profession. Jay was at all times completely satisfied to play up that picture: “I dabbled in loopy weight/ With out rap, I used to be loopy straight/ Parter, I’m nonetheless spending cash from ’88.” (Jay mentioned that in ’96.)

In 1994, after being turned down by a collection of main labels, Jay-Z bought along with Harlem entrepreneurs Damon Sprint and Kareem “Biggs” Burke to kind Roc-A-Fella Data, their very own label. Roc-A-Fella bought distribution by means of the massive indie Precedence, and Jay launched his debut album Cheap Doubt in 1996. Jay had sufficient pull to get some large collaborators on that album: Mary J. Blige, Biggie Smalls, DJ Premier. The album itself is a masterpiece, a dense and allusive have a look at big-money prison life. A part of the album’s magic is Jay’s assured hauteur. He raps like a man who doesn’t want to rap. He sounds expansive and impatient on the similar time, like he can’t consider he has to elucidate all these drug-dealing intricacies to you once more. Cheap Doubt wasn’t an enormous hit, nevertheless it established Jay as a very critical rapper. It additionally landed Jay on the Scorching 100 for the primary time. Jay’s single “Lifeless Presidents” reached #50, thanks partly to its B-side, the Cunning Brown collab “Ain’t No N***a.”

After Cheap Doubt, Jay and Roc-A-Fella signed a distribution take care of Def Jam. Jay’s comparatively shiny 1997 sophomore album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 didn’t hit the best way that he wished, and Jay had a nasty time as a gap act on Puff Daddy’s large arena-extravaganza tour. However when Jay got here out with 1998’s Vol. 2… Onerous Knock Life, all the things clicked. That album went quintuple platinum and despatched three singles into the Scorching 100. Jay used that beachhead to determine himself because the overlord of New York street-rap, to the purpose the place all of his guest-verses felt like occasions. This was the Jay-Z that Mariah Carey recruited for “Heartbreaker.”

I love that stretch of Jay’s profession, the Vol. 2/Vol. 3 interval the place he was simply speaking unbelievable cold-blooded shit on each track. And I really like listening to Jay on “Heartbreaker,” though Jay’s verse on the monitor doesn’t even have any significantly nice traces. A whole lot of it’s simply the ad-libs. Jay sounds cool even when he’s not rapping, when he’s simply speaking about the place the beat takes him or doing hypeman obligation for Mariah. In his verse, Jay takes on the persona of the heartbreaker. He complains a couple of woman getting too possessive, attempting to cease him from seeing different ladies: “She wanna examine the remaining, kick me to the curb, if she discover one strand of hair longer than hers.” Jay ultimately says that he’s bought to “ship her again to her mothers,” and when the woman tells Jay she hates him, he affords this: “She is aware of she loves Jay as a result of she loves all the things Jay say Jay does.” I consider him. For the longest time, a key a part of Jay’s character was that he was the one man who may by no means be girlfriended. Humorous how that turned out.

“Heartbreaker” is likely to be a very redundant “Fantasy” redux, and it’s nowhere close to nearly as good as “Fantasy,” however I nonetheless prefer it. A part of it’s the lighter-than-air hook. A part of it’s the approach Mariah intricately layers her personal vocals, placing a number of effort into making one thing sound easy. And a part of it’s simply getting to listen to Jay-Z in that magical world-conquering second, even when the Jay we’re getting is the watered-down Jay. “Heartbreaker” in the end works as a gentle, calorie-free trifle, a barely-there track that sounded good when popping out of a automotive radio on a scorching day. Generally, that’s all you want.

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Mariah Carey made a particularly costly “Heartbreaker” video with Rush Hour director Brett Ratner, capturing the entire thing at a film palace in downtown Los Angeles. The plot is straightforward: Mariah’s boyfriend is out on a date on the motion pictures with one other woman, so Mariah and her buddies present up on the theater to confront each of them. The boyfriend in query is Jerry O’Connell, nonetheless driving on the handsome-asshole persona he’d exploited so properly in Can’t Hardly Wait the yr earlier than. The woman he’s dishonest with is Mariah in a black wig. (Mariah referred to as this character Bianca, and it’s the persona she’d used when secretly recording Somebody’s Ugly Daughter, the 1995 alt-rock album that had been credited to the band Chick.)

Mariah performs an entire lot of dress-up within the “Heartbreaker” video. Enjoying each herself and Bianca, she mainly will get right into a kung-fu battle with herself within the movie-theater rest room. (Mariah bought members of Jackie Chan’s stunt group to show her some strikes.) She then goes and dumps a giant soda in Jerry O’Connell’s lap. Within the theater, Mariah and her buddies watch a model of Grease that additionally stars Mariah. Within the movie show’s actuality, then, Jerry O’Connell is dishonest on Mariah with one other woman who seems like Mariah, and so they’re going to see a film that stars a 3rd lady who additionally seems similar to Mariah. The person has a sort!

Jay-Z isn’t within the “Heartbreaker” video for a supremely foolish purpose. Jay did file a video look, riffing on Scarface in a scene the place he smokes a cigar in a scorching tub. Mariah is within the background, dressed up in yet one more alter-ego outfit. Mariah in her memoir: “I loved paying homage to Elvira, Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, the tortured and trapped spouse who had a spectacular house and horny designer garments (I may relate).” However Jay had simply made “Lady’s Finest Pal,” a track for the Martin Lawrence film Blue Streak, and a part of Jay’s deal was that he couldn’t present up in one other music video for just a few weeks. Mariah got here up with the thought of utilizing a cartoon as an instance Jay’s verse, and the model of the “Heartbreaker” video with Jay’s look didn’t come out till later. (“Lady’s Finest Pal” peaked at #52.)

Mariah’s “Rainbow” album really featured two totally different variations of “Heartbreaker,” each produced by DJ Clue. For the Desert Storm remix, Clue sampled Snoop Doggy Dogg’s beloved and supremely ignorant 1993 posse lower “Ain’t No Enjoyable (If The Homies Can’t Have None).” (Snoop will ultimately seem on this column.) Mariah recorded that “Heartbreaker” remix together with her buddies and previous collaborators Missy Elliott and Da Brat. (Missy’s highest-charting single, 2002’s “Work It,” peaked at #2; it’s a ten. Missy will ultimately seem on this column as a producer. Brat bought to #6 together with her 1994 single “Funkdafied“; it’s a 7.) That “Heartbreaker” remix is mainly an entire new track, with Mariah singing Nate Dogg’s “Ain’t No Enjoyable” melody however altering the lyrics to one thing aside from “you even licked my balls.” The remix bought its personal video, and it’s a blast.

These two variations of “Heartbreaker” present the place Mariah Carey’s head was when she made Rainbow. Mariah had stopped working together with her longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff as a result of he was too near her ex-husband. She nonetheless made ballads with collaborators like Diane Warren, David Foster, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and a type of ballads will ultimately seem on this column. However Mariah was extra into working with rap collaborators and singing over samples of tracks from 2Pac and Silkk The Shocker. A number of months after “Heartbreaker” hit #1, Mariah would work with Jay-Z once more, singing the hook on Jay’s Swizz Beatz-produced Vol. 3 monitor “Issues That U Do.” That is likely to be the worst track on Vol. 3, nevertheless it was additionally the plain single. As an alternative, Jay went the much less apparent route, deciding that the principle Vol. 3 single ought to be “Huge Pimpin’,” a Timbaland-produced collaboration with the Texan underground rap duo UGK. Nice selection. Basic track. (“Huge Pimpin’” peaked at #18.)

Mariah had different ambitions, too. For just a few years, she’d been planning to make an enormous cinematic debut with a film that she referred to as All That Glitters. The film lastly got here out in 2001 as Glitter, and this experiment didn’t go properly for Mariah. Mariah had really thought-about holding “Heartbreaker” and utilizing it as the only from the Glitter soundtrack, however she determined that the track was too contemporary, and he or she wished to make use of it straight away. That was most likely the suitable name. We’ll save the entire Glitter saga for an additional day, since Mariah will seem on this column once more.

GRADE: 7/10

BONUS BEATS: Right here’s “Love Muffin,” MADtv‘s not-very-nice parody of the “Heartbreaker” remix video:

BONUS BONUS BEATS: Right here’s IO Echo and Tokimonsta’s moody 2014 electro-pop cowl of “Heartbreaker”:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Right here’s trans-Atlantic R&B duo Pandr Eyes taking part in a meditative “Heartbreaker” cowl in a 2014 dwell session:

The Quantity Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal The Historical past Of Pop Music is out 11/15 through Hachette Books. You’ll be able to pre-order it right here.