Mariah Carey tore another page out of her relationship playbook with the YG-assisted heartbreak anthem “I Don’t.” Teased during the Jan. 29 finale of the E! docuseries Mariah’s World and released on Feb. 3, the Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox-produced record finds Mimi — who recently split from her ex-fiance, billionaire James Packer — reflecting on a love gone astray. “But I’m tired of cryin’, no more tears/ Pity party of the year/ Cold at night ’cause you’re not here/ Leaving you was my worst fear,” sings Carey, who also references Donell Jones‘ 1999 hit “Where I Wanna Be” on the hook.
The accompanying visual, directed by Carey, finds the high note-slayer in an array of steamy ensembles (including a lace-up skintight black outfit and a strappy red gown) alongside the suit-clad Compton rapper. At one point, she also burns a wedding dress.
In the midst of promoting her new single and gearing up for her upcoming tour with Lionel Richie, Carey just wrapped the eight-part event with Mariah’s World and has been spending quality time with her twins, Moroccan and Monroe, as well as her rumored beau, backup dancer Bryan Tanaka.
During a recent call with Billboard, Carey admitted that she hadn’t gotten a chance to watch Lady Gaga‘s Super Bowl halftime show (“I’m not really a sports enthusiast. Unless you can wear high heels in a sport, it’s not really for me,” she jokes) but took a break from her day off to chat about recruiting YG, the possibility of an upcoming album and creating a moment for her fiery scene in the “I Don’t” video.
What was going through your mind as you were writing this song?
[Jermaine Dupri] had the track with the Donell Jones [“Where I Wanna Be”] riff on it for a while and we were writing some other songs. We actually were in Italy working on different tracks, just kind of playing around in the studio and then he was just like, “I have this track that I really want you to hear,” and I was just blowing it off because I was more into doing something brand-new. And then we got back to, I think we were in L.A., and [songwriter] Crystal Nicole was there, who I worked with for “Touch My Body” and we started listening to the beat [for “I Don’t”]. We heard it and loved it and sat down and wrote a verse and the melodies together.
I knew we would want someone featured on it but it wasn’t until [UTA’s] Chris Hart, my agent, was like, “Do you know YG? We rep him. Would you want to put him on a song?” And I was like, “Of course.” So we got together, and it was literally 24 hours from the intro to the completion of the whole thing. I loved working with him in the studio as well. He actually got the idea to do that little singing part in the middle of recording and then we kind of moved it around afterwards. I loved starting the record off with him because it feels like more of a collaboration.
What made YG the perfect collaborator?
He was very focused in the studio. He wrote his rhyme and then out of nowhere, he came up with the “I know you love me” part and I loved that [singing] section. I feel like he was a perfect collaboration because he really focuses on what he’s doing.
What story were you trying to tell with the video?
It was a day later after we did the song. We had to put it together really quickly. There wasn’t really one storyline, it was just the breaking up of a, whatever you want to call it, relationship and it kind of fit with the lyrics. I’ve always wanted to burn a wedding dress in a video. So we took this opportunity to do that ’cause in the “We Belong Together” video, I told [director] Brett Ratner in post-[production], I wanted to burn the train of the wedding dress, which was actually the real wedding dress that I wore in one of my many endeavors into marriage. He wouldn’t light the train up so I was like, “You know what? I’m gonna do this myself.”
You flaunt your physique in several ensembles in the video and recently showed a clip of you in the gym in heels. How did you physically prepare for this video?
That was a nonsense routine right there. [Laughs] Dressing up in the ensemble and doing that was just me having fun and being silly. It was just reliving the splendor of [MTV’s] Cribs. That was all I was doing, but before that, I’ve just been dieting and working out when I can.
Your manager Stella said you were working on new music and I recently saw you in the studio with DJ Khaled and Travis Scott. Is that a collaboration for an upcoming album?
Right now, I’m not doing an album because when I do an album, I really like to go somewhere tropical and a lot of different places to make albums so that I can focus and make a full, cohesive body of work, but the thing is that right now, I feel like the market is so — and it’s not really about the market — it’s about me enjoying making music but everything is so quick just in the music business that it’s better for me to collaborate and do some different records and then eventually make it into an album and add a couple of new songs. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do, but I know that I can’t stop making music for that long because it’s just been too long for me. Touring is cool and performing live is great ’cause you get to be with fans from all around the world but my favorite thing is being in the studio, making records.
What was it like working with DJ Khaled and Travis Scott?
That was great. We didn’t get a chance to work, but Khaled is a really good friend of mine and he’s such an incredible person. I had just met Travis. All his work is really good, but “Goosebumps” is one of my favorite songs.
You’ve always kept your ear to what’s hot in hip-hop. Would you ever consider a collaboration with Migos?
I never know who I’m gonna work with. It’s always a last-minute thing. Everything for me is about the vibe and how you connect with the person — that’s how I look at it. That’s why I really loved working with YG — he has such an incredible spirit and he’s just a true artist. I respect that about him.
You debuted “I Don’t” on the finale of Mariah’s World. Any chance you’d re-up for another season?
I’m trying to think about it. If we can add more music. I originally felt that it would be a little more with the music and a little less narrative, but we’ll see what happens. It was actually fun to do and as I’m getting ready to go back on the road for a little while and now that I have some new material, you never know.
As mother to Roc and Roe, what is your advice to Beyoncé, who recently announced she was pregnant with twins, and other mothers expecting two babies?
I sent her a message on Instagram but in general, I would say that having twins is an incredibly difficult experience. Just to have one baby — maybe some people have an easy time with that — but twins, I would be hard-pressed to find somebody who didn’t have a little bit of a difficulty because I went through it so that’s just one thing to be aware of. And it’s the best thing ever. I have the best time with Roc and Roe — they’re my two best friends.