|Released January 7, 2005|
Genre Hip hop
|Format 12" CD digital download|
"It's Like That" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey for her tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). Written by Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal, and Johntá Austin, and produced by Carey, Dupri, and Seal, the song borrows the hook "It's Like That Y'all" from the Run–D.M.C. tracks "Hollis Crew" (1984) and "Here We Go (Live)" (1983). "Stay the Night", "Say Somethin'" and "Shake It Off" were all contenders for the lead single. However, plans were changed when Island Def Jam Music head L.A. Reid suggested to Carey she record a few more strong songs to ensure the album's success, therefore "It's Like That" was written and chosen as the album's lead single, being released on January 7, 2005.
- Composition and lyrics
- Critical reception
- Chart performance
- Music video
"It's Like That" is a hip hop song featuring ad-libs by the song's producer Jermaine Dupri and Fatman Scoop, while its lyrics discuss about a celebration, free of stress, strife and sadness, where Carey's alter-ego "Mimi" is being emancipated. The song received generally favorable reviews from music critics, most of whom noted its catchiness and carefree message. It was also nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Commercially, the song charted well worldwide, becoming a top twenty hit in several countries, including the United States, while peaking inside the top-ten in over five other countries.
The song's music video, directed by Brett Ratner, was filmed as a two-part story with "We Belong Together", featuring Carey at her bachelorette party, while getting ready to marry Eric Roberts and falling in love with a party guest and ex-lover, played by Wentworth Miller. The song was heavily promoted by the singer in a number of places, such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, BET, VH1 and more, while being performed on both her The Adventures of Mimi and Angels Advocate Tour.
In 2001, Carey released her debut film Glitter, which was met with an overwhelmingly negative response critically and commercially, followed by personal and professional struggles. Its accompanying soundtrack of the same name fared slightly better, spawning a top-five single in the United States and selling over three million units globally. After posting a personally expressive letter on her official site, Carey checked into a hospital in Connecticut because of an "emotional and physical breakdown". Following the events, Virgin Records bought out Carey's unprecedented $100 million USD recording contract. The company paid her $50 million to part ways. Carey flew to Capri, Italy, after her two-week hospitalization. During her five-month stay, she began to write a new studio album, using experiences she had gone through in recent months as inspirational themes.
After being signed by Island Records and starting her own imprint, MonarC Entertainment, Carey released her intended "comeback" album Charmbracelet (2002). However, the album failed to revive her career, receiving mixed reviews and failing to spawning a hit in the US, but sold considerably well. After enduring three years of "carping" from critics, Carey planned her return to music. On November 18, 2004, she revealed on her website that she would return to music and announced that the album would be called The Emancipation of Mimi, stating, "For the first time in my life, I feel free and unashamed to be who I really am," she wrote. "I am celebrating that I've grown into a person and artist who no longer feels imprisoned by my insecurities ... I can now honestly say, 'This is me, the real me, take it or leave it'."
Originally, "Stay the Night" was planned to be The Emancipation of Mimi's lead-single, with an online music forum based in the United Kingdom, announcing that it would be in stores on October 11 (in the UK). A few weeks later, it was removed from the release schedule, but it re-appeared under a different date, November 15, 2004. Later, it was revealed that "Say Somethin'" (feat. Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg) was supposed to be the album's first single, as reported by Jennifer Vineyard of MTV News, who also revealed that the song was originally supposed to go to radio by the end of November, but it was pushed back to January and would be accompanied by a video, according to Carey's label representative. However, both singles weren't release as the first single (eventually "Say Somethin'" was released as the album's final single).
Then, Island Records head L.A. Reid suggested Carey travel to Atlanta for a period of three days to work with Jermaine Dupri. When Reid heard the Dupri-helmed songs, Carey recalled, "He was like, 'Oh no! Now we've got to change the single, make these singles one and two.' " Carey agreed. "Nobody could tell me that 'Shake It Off' wasn't going to be my first single. It was my favorite song, just from the demo." Dupri had quickly sized up what he felt the album needed. "The records that I made are very melodic records, regardless of their hip-hop influence," Dupri said. "I think that's what she was missing." On June 7, 2005, "It's Like That" leaked online and it was rumoured to be the official first single. "It's Like That" aired first on Hot 97 in New York City; after the leak, over 40 stations begun playing the track. On June 15, 2005, Carey posted a sound clip of "It's Like That", on her official website. Ultimately, "It's Like That" was sent to mainstream and rhythmic radio on January 25, 2005.
Composition and lyrics
"It's Like That" was written by Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal and Johntá Austin, while Carey and Dupri produced the song, with additional co-production by Seal. The song also features Dupri and Fatman Scoop providing adlibs and rap in the intro and outro, respectively. It samples Run–D.M.C.'s hook "It's Like that Y'all" from their track "Hollis Crew" (1984). "It's Like That" is a hip-hop song, about Carey going to a club to relax and forget her troubles, refusing to give in to stress, strife and sadness. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine went further, writing that in the song Carey arrives at the party "already shit-faced": "I came to have a party/Open off that Bacardi…Purple taking me higher/I'm lifted and I like it." As described by PopMatters's Jozen Cummings, "Hand claps and a playful whistle set the pulse for four bars. After Dupri’s ad-libs, the whistle drops out and allows Carey’s voice to lead the hand claps and throbbing bass, while the chorus spawns a chord progression with strings and piano."
During an interview for MTV, Mariah explained the meaning of the lines, "Them chickens is ash and I'm lotion," stating: "We were sitting around basically having jokes. [...] We're like making up stupid stuff just to entertain ourselves at this point. Then Jermaine [Dupri] came back in the room and we're all sitting there going something about ash and lotion. We're not calling somebody ashy. We're actually saying, 'You are ash and we're lotion.' So basically, you are the antithesis of us. Basically I'm talking to the guy like, 'Them chickens is ash and I'm lotion. You need to get rid of them and I'm the antidote'."
The song received mostly favorable reviews from music critics. Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine picked the song as a highlight from The Emancipation of Mimi. Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian wrote a positive review for the song, praising the "headbanging Fatman Scoop rap", also noting that "Carey is very much a presence, unfurling her three octaves judiciously." Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly described the song as "almost as cool as Run-DMC song (which shares the same title), with Carey fantasizing about easing into a nightclub buzzed on Bacardi. No stress, no fights, she sings, making it sound like a trip to a vacation spa." Vibe editor Dimitri Enrlich wrote that the song is an "aggressive, off kilter joint with harshly stiff beat", pointing out that it was going to solidify comeback to her MTV crowd." Daniel Incognito of Sputnikmusic wrote that the song "offers another example of Carey taking the entire workload, and pulling it off with variety and a delicate touch."
Jozen Cummings of PopMatters wrote a very positive reception, commenting that the song "is the perfect introduction for the rest of the album’s carefree feel," stating that the song "is able to go from catchy to infectious status." Adam Webb of BBC Music wrote the track "successfully re-writes Christina Aguilera's career blueprint, that even a typically bull-in-a-china-shop contribution from Fatman Scoop can't ruin it." The New York Times editor Jon Pareles wrote a more mixed review, calling it "a come-on set to bare-bones electro from the producer Jermaine Dupri to stay contemporary, sometimes reducing her voice to the processed nasality of Britney Spears."
In 2006, "It's Like That" received a nomination for a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards, but lost to Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone". Raneisha Wilkinson of The Celebrity Cafe placed the song at number 5 among her "Top 10 Songs", calling it an enjoyable "catchy club banger song." Mark Graham of VH1 ranked the song at number 11 on her "43 Best Songs" list.
"It's Like That" was one of Carey's biggest commercial successes in years, after an almost two-year absence from the charts, becoming her most successful single in the US since "Loverboy" (2001). On the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song debuted at number 53, becoming her highest-debuting Hot 100 song in almost five years. It eventually peaked at number 16, and stayed in the top forty for fifteen weeks, being ranked 69 on the Hot 100's "2005 year-end chart". It was certified gold by the RIAA, becoming Carey's first gold digital single.
The single was slightly more successful outside the US. In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number 4, giving Mariah her best charting-single since "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) (2000) with Westlife. In Australia, after debuting at number 9, "It's Like That" became Mariah's most successful single since "Loverboy", while in Italy, while peaking at number 7, it matched the peak position of "Through the Rain" (2002). In France, even with a peak of number 16, "It's Like That" was her most successful single since "Heartbreaker" (1999).
An official remix produced by Scott Storch has a more Middle Eastern flavor and a rap by Fat Joe. Dance remixes, with re-recorded vocals by Carey, were produced by David Morales. Peter Rauhofer and Pound Boys (a.k.a. Mayhem & Craig C.) also remixed "It's like That", but their remixes were not released. Because many singles by 2005 did not have commercial CD single releases, the remixes were only released on twelve-inch vinyl maxi single. Two maxi singles were released.
Carey initially wanted Paul Hunter to direct the video. However, Brett Ratner, who directed some of Carey's other videos, was later chosen instead. The main setting of the video, which was shot on location at Greystone Park Mansion in Beverly Hills, California on February 11, 2005, is a party at a mansion turned nightclub on the night before Carey's character's wedding to Eric Roberts. Several guests are seen wearing masks, and there are celebrity cameo appearances by Brian McKnight, Randy Jackson, and the two featured rappers on the track, Dupri and Fatman Scoop. Carey is singing along to Fatman Scoop's outro rap when she sees a party guest (played by Wentworth Miller) taking off his mask and revealing himself to be an ex-lover of hers. The video ends on a cliffhanger, which leads to the video for the album's second single, "We Belong Together" (the two videos were filmed simultaneously).