Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly.”

Released: September 16th, 1997

Label: Columbia

Genre: Pop, Hip hop, R&B

Producer: Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff, Sean “Puffy” Combs, The Ummah, Stevie J, Trackmasters, Cory Rooney & David Morales.


Mariah Carey was already one of the decade’s most household names by 1997. Her fifth studio album “Daydream” was an international success, selling over 20 million records worldwide, and was her second album to be certified Diamond by the RIAA. Daydream was the beginning of Mariah’s transition into the R&B market, and the popularization of hip hop collaborations with popular music.

Butterfly was released September 16, 1997. Considered to be Mariah’s magnum opus and her personal favorite album, Butterfly is what the title embodies. It is a story of artistic freedom and emancipation from the shackles of the complications of Mariah’s life at the time.

During the conception of the album, she was going through a divorce with her then husband Tommy Mottola, which allowed her more control over the type of music she wanted to make. For the majority of her career, Mottola and his team wanted her to release everything but R&B & hip hop music, which she was very passionate about.

With elements of hip hop and R&B, Butterfly is a departure from Mariah’s previous albums, but is flawless 100%. Butterfly changed the face of pop music, & paved the way for pop stars to collaborate with their hip hop peers. Butterfly gave Mariah Carey her authentically be herself and make the music she loves and adores. Selling over 10 million copies worldwide, the album peaked in the top three on the Billboard R&B albums & number one on the Billboard 200 charts.

Ladies & gentlemen, I present to you: Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly.”


Written by Mariah Carey, Sean Combs, Kamaal Fareed, Steven Jordan, Stephen Hague, Bobby Robinson, Ronald Larkins, Larry Price & Malcolm McLaren.


Honey was a whole redefining moment for Mariah’s career. While it pushed her further into the hip hop scene, the sound kept her traditional R&B influences incorporated…and blended together beautifully.

Honey was one of the songs that made hip hop music..POP music. It is an important song to her legacy, as it is her 12th number one. Honey reveals a more confident and mature woman, and we loved every moment. The song samples “Body Rock” by The Treacherous Three and “Hey DJ” by World’s Famous Supreme Team.


Written by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff.

Directly connecting to Mariah’s life at the time, the title track is a R&B & gospel influenced ballad where the lyrics have Mariah telling someone to spread their wings and fly into the world on their own (like a butterfly). Originally conceived as a house record, Mariah realized how personal the lyrics were and could be applied to the album..and wrote the song was Afanasieff.

My All

Written by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff.

My All is a slow-tempo R&B ballad with influences from Latin music. Mariah titles this song was about the first time she “fell in love with love.” The remix of this song is flawless as well! Mariah recently admitted that this song was about risking her life to have a night with baseball player Derek Jeter in Puerto Rico! 😌. It is also her 13th number one.

The Roof

Written by Mariah Carey, Jean-Claude Olivier, Samuel Barnes, Cory Rooney, Albert Johnson & Kejuan Muchita.

One of my highlights from the album has to be the immaculate “The Roof.” The slow and silky smooth song is built around a sample from Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Part II.” Mariah recently revealed this was one song that was about her romance with Derek Jeter.

Fourth of July

Written by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff.

Fourth of July is a slow ballad with jazz influences and has been compared to Mariah’s previous work “Underneath The Stars” from 1995’s Daydream & “The Wind” from 1991’s Emotions.

Breakdown featuring Krayzie Bone & Wish Bone

Written by Mariah Carey, Anthony Henderson & Charles Scruggs

A powerful tale of a romance gone wrong, Breakdown describes the emotions felt when someone’s lover suddenly stops loving them and leaving them..and the pain causes them to breakdown. Breakdown is considered to be an important part Butterfly, due to the lyrical content and the feature from one of the best hip hop groups at the time: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

The song peaked in the top 5 of the R&B charts, and is one of the songs that should have had the most commercial success, but due to her conflict with Sony at the time, it had a limited worldwide release.


Written by Mariah Carey & Missy Elliott.

Another slept on ballad from the album, Babydoll is perfection at its finest.

Close My Eyes

Written by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff.

Still I Feel like a child as I look at the moon. Maybe I grew up a little too soon..

One of Mariah’s most favorite & revealing songs she has written, is lyrically one of her best songs. The song speaks about negative experiences in her life, especially her relationship with Mottola..but also spoke of having courage during times of adversity.

Whenever You Call

Written by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff.

Another ballad from the elusive chanteuse that states that she is here for the said person whenever they call on her.

Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise)

Written by Mariah Carey, Elton John, Bernie Taupin & David Morales.

The house influenced remix of “Butterfly,” Fly Away is a gem through and through. It was going to be the sole song for the album until the lyrics resonated with Mariah so much to make it into a full song. It contains a interpolation of Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

The Beautiful Ones featuring Dru Hill

Written by Prince.

A cover of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” was done beautifully by Mariah & Sisqo of Dru Hill. The only cover of his music I truly respect!


Written by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff

The most beautiful song on this album, Outside concludes the album with the universal meaning of not fitting in. Growing up a biracial child in New York, Mariah struggled with acceptance and fitting in. The song has resonated with me in so many ways due to the fact that I am a Black Gay man. I am sure people that are on the “outside” can agree with me.

Mariah Carey’s discography will always stand the test of time due to the fact that she is truly one of our living legends, but it is something about Butterfly that makes it meaningful. We’ve all had our Butterfly moments and came out winning in the end. Mariah truly became a Butterfly after releasing this album. She was free from the control of Tommy Mottola and became an ARTIST on her terms and making the music she wanted. That’s what a musician wants in the end…to be free. -MJ

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