Last week, VH1 announced the network would commemorate Mariah Carey during this year’s “Hip Hop Honors.” If you’re one of the people on the Internet wondering what the “songbird supreme” has to do with the rap game, the answer is plenty. Since the ’90s, the part-venezolana has been lending her five-octave vocal range to hip-hop classics, and heavyweights like Nas, Jay Z, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Snoop Dogg, to name a few, have returned the favor by rapping over her R&B chart-toppers. But if you’re still skeptical, the songs below will prove that Mariah is the queen of hip-hop collaborations and that her honor at the annual event, which airs on VH1 Monday night at 9/8c, is long overdue.
1. In 1995, Mariah showed she was hip-hop’s R&B “Fantasy” in this megahit featuring ODB.
In the early ‘90s, Mariah had already proven she would be one of the most successful talents of the decade. And in hip-hop, Wu-Tang Clan was revolutionizing the game. So it made sense that the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard would lend his distinctive half-rapped, half-sung style to one of the biggest R&B/hip-hop collabs to date.
2. Listening to the Long Island, New York-born diva sing over a hip-hop beat is like “Honey,” just like this remix featuring The Lox and Mase.
In 1997, Mariah set her sights on the hip-hop collab crown, dropping several hits this year and the ones following with rap stars. But in “Honey,” she also gave us bounce and shimmy dance goals that we’re still using on the dancefloor.
3. In “The Roof,” Mariah brings sweet vocals and lyrics over one of hip-hop’s hardest beats.
In this underrated jam, built around a sample from “Shook Ones Part II” by Mobb Deep, Mariah brought in the Queensbridge duo, making a romantic track even gangstas could vibe to.
4. The fellas of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony crush Mariah’s heart in “Breakdown” and bless the world with one of the best breakup songs of all time.
If you’re a brown or black girl heartbroken in the ‘hood, this 1998 classic with Cleveland’s greatest rap group has accompanied you through lonely nights. This masterpiece alone made her a contender for the Best Hip-Hop Collaborator title.
5. Mariah is the rap game’s “Sweetheart,” and this megahit with Jermaine Dupri let all other R&B stars know.
In this ‘98 smash hit, Mariah proved she could make great collabs with hard lyricists as well as commercial acts like Atlanta’s Dupri.
6. With “Heartbreaker,” Mariah and Jay Z showed us what urban music royalty sounds like.
When one of the queens of R&B joins one of the kings of hip-hop, only sovereign sounds can be expected. That’s what happened in 1999, when the New York giants dropped this collab fave to end the millennium.
7. Mariah’s remix to “Thank God I Found You,” featuring Nas and Joe, had every listener wishing they could “make it last.”
With this early 2000 hit, Mariah made it clear that she was bringing her fire collabos into the millennium, and she did it with one of the best rappers of all time: Queensbridge’s Nasir Jones. In this remix, which is also a remake of Keith Sweat’s “Make It Last Forever,” the trio deliver one of the most underrated rap/R&B love records of the decade.
8. Mariah is every teary-eyed heartbroken gal in “Crybaby” featuring Snoop Dogg.
In this smooth jam from 2000, the diva sings about not being able to let go of an ex. That’s when Long Beach, Calif.’s own Snoop Dogg comes in and raps her some advice to move on, creating straight gold.
9. A less popular, but still oh so dope, jam of the early 2000s is “You Got Me.”
In this 2002 song from her “Charmbracelet” album, Mariah reunites with the Brooklyn emcee who broke her heart in ‘99, Jay Z, and collabs for the first time with Philly giant Freeway, gifting fans with the perfect track for when you’re sprung on a crush.
10. Mariah knows “What You Want,” and that’s why she hopped on this Busta Rhymes banger featuring Flipmode Squad.
In 2003, la reina linked up with fellow Long Island star Busta in “I Know What You Want,” gifting students everywhere with the ultimate spring break jam.
11. A year later, she teamed up with old pal Jadakiss for “U Make Me Wanna.”
Mariah and the finest emcee out of Yonkers, New York, Jada-Muah, made the ultimate love jam in this hit that had even the hardest dudes singing “K.I.S.S. Me.”
12. In 2005, the two reunited, along with Styles P, for the hip-hop remix of Mariah’s megahit “We Belong Together.”
In the early 2000s, the world couldn’t get enough of Mariah’s “We Belong Together.” The hit, off of her “The Emancipation of Mimi” album, proved the diva was back and as poppin’ as ever. But to show that she also remained the ruler of the hip-hop collabs, she dropped this gem with rappers she had made hits with in the past.
13. This 2008 track with T.I. shows why we’ll all be loving Mariah “long time.”
In “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time,” the always-relevant Mariah brought Atlanta heavy-hitter T.I. to her bubblegum love song, showing newcomers she could re-enter the game at any time and still make fire with the most popular rap artists.
14. One of the 8179817047874 reasons we’re “Obsessed” with Mariah is because of collabos like this one with Gucci Mane.
If it’s 2009 and you’re singing a song about being bad af and having lame dudes (i.e. Eminem) obsess over you, there’s probably no better rapper to bring onto a track than Atlanta’s own Gucci Mane. Mariah always knows what she’s doing when it comes to her remixes.
15. Anyone who claims Mariah isn’t the queen of the hip-hop collab needs to get “Up Out My Face,” like her 2010 jam with Nicki Minaj.
This hit with the Queens, NY rapper wasn’t the first time she made a track with a female emcee (there was her “Heartbreaker” remix with Missy Elliot and Da Brat and her “Loverboy” remix featuring Da Brat, Ludacris, Twenty II and Shawnna, to name a couple), but it was the most mainstream one. What else can you expect when two divas of the urban genre appear together as dolls in a Target-esque music video?