Giving Me Life
One of my favorite moments in the studio for this album
- Mariah Carey
Written by Mariah Carey, Devonté Hynes, Ricky M. L. Walters
Produced by Mariah Carey & Devonté Hynes
Contains dialogue from the motion picture “Trading Places,” performed by Eddie Murphy and James D. Turner
6:08 Album Version featuring Slick Rick & Blood Orange
ABOUT THE SONG
MC: It was a dream come true to work with Slick Rick because I’ve been a huge fan of Slick -- Dougie Fresh & Slick Rick since I was growing up, and they were like, with all the hip hop collaborations I’ve done, I never gotta chance to work… I’ve sampled Slick Rick before, but I’ve never got a chance to work with him, so this was a great thing, and um It’s a song with Blood Orange, that’s Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, we got together, we wrote the song, it’s called Giving Me Life, and it’s just one of my favorite records on the album cause it’s not trying to be a big single, it’s not trying to be like a poppy or even a hip hop type of record, it’s just, like, got it’s own vibe, so um, now hearing Slick Rick’s voice on it, has just brought it all together for me.
Q: So how does that happen? Did you think about Slick Rick when you were putting the song together, like,”I gotta get Slick on this.” Did it seem like a perfect fit?
MC: You know what? There’s some lyrics in the song that kind of, like it goes like, “thinking about when we were seventeen,” there’s certain parts of the song that are giving you that nostalgia, and I did think about Slick Rick. It was interesting because I was talking to Jay Z about different ideas and collaborations and stuff, and he actually suggested Blood Orange and Dev, and so we got together and it ended up where we just, the whole, all the stars aligned. It ended up that Slick Rick was available to do it and get on the song and now I can say that I worked with Slick Rick and it makes me happy, you know.
Q: Wow. That’s almost like that teenage love type feel to it. A teenage love.
MC: Yes, yes! [sings] Don’t hurt me again…”
SiriusXM “Mariah Carey has been trying to work with Slick Rick for years”, November 16, 2018
AF: You’ve always had great collaborations on your albums. How did you come to work with Dev Hynes on the new song “Giving Me Life”?
MC: I was sitting with Jay-Z and [Roc Nation exec Tyran] “Ty Ty” [Smith], and I was telling Jay a vision that I had for the album, and said, “Is there anyone who you could think of?” He talked to me about Blood Orange, and then I met Dev and fell in love with him. I worked with him here at Electric Lady. He came in to the studio, and I was like, “I just want to work from the inception to the completion of this thing.” A lot of times producers or collaborators don’t get that I really mean it when I say that I want to be there from the beginning. Dev got that better than anybody. And so, even the drum pattern, we were working at it from scratch together. There’s a synth sound on “Giving Me Life” that’s like my favorite thing. It just resonated with me. And it was a feel in the studio. It wasn’t like anybody trying to show off or do anything but be immersed in the music.
Pitchfork “Forever Mariah: An Interview With an Icon” by Alex Frank, November 28, 2018
CJ: How did you become involved with Mariah Carey on “Giving Me Life”? I thought Caution was one of her better albums.
Dev Hynes: I think so, too, personally, as a Mariah stan. Or as a member of the Lambily. That was crazy. So someone reached out from her team asking if I was around in L.A. to work. Through the years, there’d be messages like that about certain stuff that never panned out. Usually what happens is someone’s team asks me if I want to work with whoever, and then I’m super jacked for it, and they’re like, “Cool. We also just signed this artist from London if you want to …”
Anyway, Mariah’s people hit me up, and it was a crazy thing. I went to the studio, and if I remember correctly, we didn’t even make music for the first three hours. We just listened to music. Her music knowledge is out of control. It’s another planet of music knowledge.
CJ: She’s a singer who doesn’t get enough credit for being an incredible songwriter, and for knowing what she knows about how to make good records. I think a lot of people believe she just gets the material and sings it.
DH: No, no, no. Everything is written in the room. It was me at a piano and her sitting next to me. We wrote that song. Even the snare sound was her telling me what snare sound she wants. Even the samples! I do a lot of talking sample things in my music, and I think people probably think that was me, but that was her. She knows every word to Coming to America. She literally spoke the samples to me, and when I went and found it, it was verbatim. It’s a somewhat out-there song, and I think people thought the out-there parts were my influence when they weren’t.
CJ: Did you know Slick Rick was going to be on the record, or did you find out later?
DH: Well, the funny thing is that on the very first day, when we had the beat going, she kept telling me, “This would be amazing with Slick Rick on it.” She said he was her favorite rapper when she was growing up in New York. So when Slick Rick eventually appeared on it, I was like, Oh shit, that was real. She meant that.
Vulture “Dev Hynes on His New Blood Orange Mixtape and Mariah Carey’s Otherworldly Genius” by Craig Jenkins, July 10, 2019
2018.11.16 Released on the Caution album.