Mariah needed a miracle. In November 2004 she was still mired in a deep slump that was on the verge of killing her career ("Glitter
," anyone?). But she had a full album's worth of hot new material in the can that she was sure would rocket her back to multiplatinum status.
However, Mariah's label boss, L.A. Reid, thought she needed a little insurance, and suggested she try just one more session to sprinkle some final fairy dust on her emancipation proclamation, The Emancipation of Mimi
. "L.A. was like, 'You and Jermaine
Dupri make magic together, why aren't you in the studio with him?' " Carey recalled. "I said, 'I love Jermaine, is he free? I know he's doing a million things, Usher and this and that.' But Jermaine said, 'Come on down.' "
Dupri, of course, is one of the biggest hitmakers of the past 20 years, having crafted hits for Usher
, Alicia Keys
, Kris Kross
and many others in addition to Mariah. …