More Mariah

She's proclaimed emancipation before, but Mariah Carey's never sounded as free as she does on "E=MC2," due this week via Island Def Jam.

She's proclaimed emancipation before, but Mariah Carey's never sounded as free as she does on "E=MC2," due this week via Island Def Jam. The usual hummable radio hip-hop and bold ballads are here, in pristine form. But so are some coy surprises, like the irresistible "I'm That Chick" (which covertly samples "Off the Wall" for an early Michael Jackson disco bounce) and the Swizz Beatz-produced "O.O.C."

Carey even digs deep and pulls up "Side Effects," a Scott Storch-produced, dark hip-hop track that follows a passive woman's descent into domestic abuse. First single "Touch My Body" has already hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and thus Carey passes Elvis Presley for second place on the all-time chart-topper list with 18.

Carey started recording the album last summer in several houses she rented in Florida, as well as her favorite vacation spot in Capri. "There's something kind of important to me about going there when I'm working on an album," she says. "There's something about the Mediterranean that's amazing for my voice."

"I was given a gift," Carey says. "I know that music comes from God. It got me through things before I was known to the world, before I was on the Billboard charts. Music healed me. Music helped me. It was important for me to express where I was coming from."