Mariah Carey Opens Up About Tommy Mottola in New Memoir: 'He Tried to Wash the ‘Urban’ Off of Me'

Mariah Carey lights the Empire State Building in celebration of the 25th anniversary of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on December 17, 2019, in New York City.
Mariah Carey lights the Empire State Building in celebration of the 25th anniversary of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on December 17, 2019, in New York City.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images (Getty Images)
It's Lit!It's Lit!Where all things literary live at The Root

We’re about to learn the “meaning” of Mariah Carey.

At the time of this blog’s posting, the diva’s new memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey (co-written by Michaela Angela Davis) is set for wide release and will soon be in the hands of fans and curious onlookers alike.


In a recent book review from Rich Juzwiak of The L.A. Times, the much-anticipated memoir is described as “a self-conscious dressing-down of its subject, so meticulous as to make it seem that taking off the persona is just putting it on in reverse.” Two-thirds of the book is reportedly about her ex-husband, music executive Tommy Mottola. Mottola was head of Sony Music at the time, to which Carey was signed at the age of 18. The two married in 1993 (she was 23 years old and he was 43 at the time) and divorced in 1998. Since then, Carey has stated that she suffered emotional abuse and described herself as a “prisoner” in the marriage.

In the book, she delves a bit deeper.

Juzwiak writes:

Carey’s music took a decidedly R&B turn when she gained the courage to defy Mottola; early on, Carey writes, “he tried to wash the ‘urban’ (translation: Black) off of me. And it was no different when it came to the music.” She says Mottola “smoothed out” her sound, though she has always contended that she’s the primary architect of her work, a musician whose contributions to her art beyond her prodigious singing have largely gone unsung. Some clarity on her collaborative process could have solved this seeming paradox, and lent Carey’s character some welcome depth via accountability.

“I am deeply gratified to have played that role in Mariah’s well-deserved and remarkable success, and continue to wish her and her family only the very best,” Mottola, now 71, said in a recent statement to Page Six.

Overall, Juzwiak notes there are some missing components of the book, including no mention of Eminem (the two had a decade-long feud) nor further discussion of her bipolar diagnosis (which she revealed to People Magazine in 2018). There are apparently legitimate witty moments to look forward to such as her refusal to print Jennifer Lopez’s name; instead, Carey refers to her as “another female entertainer on [Sony] (whom I don’t know).”

The Meaning of Mariah Carey is available for pre-order now and will be released on Sept. 29.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.


Lord Whistledown

Even back then that relationship seemed abusive just on its uneven power balance. It’s a testament to her talent and tenacity that she could put out such incredible music under that kind of pressure.

Now I’m off to listen to Music Box.