Mariah Carey, by now, is a musical legend with a legacy as smooth as her voice. Even so, the leadup to her 14th album, the impeccably titled Me. I Am Mariah … The Elusive Chanteuse, has been a bit bumpy. Soft-rocking Miguel duet “Beautiful” was a hit, but throwback R&B tracks “The Art of Letting Go” and “You’re Mine (Eternal),” while classicist and impressive, underperformed – though not as much as Rick Ross showcase “Triumphant (Get ‘Em),” which Mariah was barely on. The song was relegated untriumphantly to promotional-single status and dropped from the album’s lineup.
“Thirsty,” which premiered today, is almost like an attempt to fix that, to get the hip-hop-influenced track right. Producer Hit-Boy (a couple of his eponymous hits: Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Paris,” Beyoncé’s “XO” and “Flawless”) gives Carey one of his signature beats: a minimalist synth hook that breaks into martial strings or imperial sangfroid when the mood calls for it. And this time Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan’s the one who gets dominated by Carey’s larger-than-life presence; he warbles Future-ish backing vocals on the hook while Carey dismisses the titular “thirsty” braggart.
The anti-scrub track is one of Mariah’s best looks – sometimes she even names names, as with Eminem on “Obsessed” – and as always, Carey makes it seem and sound utterly effortless. Listen below.