They say you never know how good something is until you try it, who knew that peanut butter and jelly would set the world ablaze? Sometimes, pairing opposites makes for a grand result. This was the case when pop star –Mariah Carey — remixed her hit record “Fantasy,” featuring the most erratic member of the Wu Tang Clan, ODB.
Also known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard — “because there ain’t no father to his style” — is recognized as one of the most raw, unorthodox, unpredictable and authentic personalities to ever grace hip hop. As such, he was an unusual pick to feature on Mariah Carey’s chart-topping single. Known for his free nature and wild behavior, the mixture of his tainted public image alongside Mariah Carey’s pristine image made for a head scratcher to many.
The original record was the lead single off her Mariah’s fifth studio album, 1995’s Daydream, written by Carey and Dave Hall and produced by Bad Boy Records.
Known primarily as a pop star, Mariah Carey wanted to make a splash in the hip-hop scene and personally requested to have ODB on the remix. In an interview with Genius, hip hop journalist, Rob Markman, praised her for making collaborations with hip hop artists popular, as she went on to explain why she was so intent on having Wu Tang’s bad boy on the record. Divulging that since she grew up in New York, she listened to the same music as everybody else, and since hip hop was major in New York, she loved it and wanted to incorporate some of their production in her music. Her fandom of the late rapper was the reason behind her request, despite the disapproval of label executives.
In a 2016 Billboard feature, the backstory on how the record came together was revealed. Corey Rooney (A&R for the track), said he reached out to ODB, who wanted $15,000 to rap on the record and since it wouldn’t have put a dent in Mariah Carey’s budget, it was fine with him.
On the day of the recording, ODB showed up three hours late, drunk, and on the phone, arguing with his girlfriend. After the commotion, he asked for some Moet and a box of Newports before recording, to which Rooney responded that they were already behind schedule, which resulted in him accusing the assistants of being “white devils who don’t want to let black people have anything.” He ended up throwing a bottle of Heineken in disgust when it was all the crew could find.
The “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” rapper proved to live up to his reputation of being difficult to work with by only rapping one line at a time and napping in between lyrics. Eventually they were able to complete the verse but, had to pay him another $15,000 to appear in the video.
The remix differs slightly from the original, as it sampled Tom Tom Club’s 1981 record “Genius of Love” (per Mariah Carey’s request, as it was one of her favorite songs growing up), as well as, Dirty’s “Baby C’mon” and “Goin’ Down.”
The record made Mariah Carey he first female artist in history to have a record debut at the top of the Billboard 100, spending eight consecutive weeks at number 1. The cover for the single was done by photographer Steven Meisel and Mariah Carey made her directorial debut as she created the video concept and picked the location.
Carey and Dave Hall wrote the song about a woman who was in love with a man and every time she saw that man, she started having fantasies about him and a potential relationship that was impossible. ODB’s verse was nothing to write home about, as it was a drunken freestyle.
Oh, when you walk by every night
Talkin’ sweet and lookin’ fine
I get kinda hectic inside
Mmm, baby, I’m so into you
Darlin’, if you only knew
All the things that flow through my mind
Mariah set the mood with her opening verse singing about how the man walks through her mind and how she perceives him talking sweet to her. ODB’s verse was all over the place but his melodic flow carried him throughout the record.
Me and Mariah
Go back like babies with pacifiers (That’s right)
Old Dirt Dog’s no liar
Keep your fantasy hot like fire
Jump, jump, let me see you do the stump
Girls, let me see you shake your rump
Brothers, hit it from the back and front
And let’s do it, do it, do it, uh-huh
I’m a little bit of Country
I’m a little bit of Rock and Roll
And I’m soul to soul
Big letters, all big and bold
Old Dirty Bastard across the globe
While not that long, the verse was still impactful, as his raw and unorthodox rap style gave it the extra credibility it needed to appeal to hard-core hip-hop fans.
The influence of “Fantasy” has had a long-lasting effect. It introduced R&B to hip-hop — and with Mariah Carey’s status as a pop superstar — helped grow the genre. Yet, for many, the song will always be remembered for Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s iconic feature. Not because of the quality of his verse, but because his mere presence and his unapologetic way of living was a representation of everything hip hop was about and he didn’t change for anyone.