We got Stevie J to lay down the track and I wrote the melody over it
- Mariah Carey
Written by Mariah Carey, Anthony “Krayzie Bone” Henderson, Charles “Wish Bone” Scruggs & Steven “Stevie J” Jordan
Produced by Mariah Carey, Steven “Stevie J” Jordan & Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs
4:45 Album Version featuring Krayzie Bone & Wish Bone
4:17 Radio Edit featuring Krayzie Bone & Wish Bone
4:59 The Mo’ Thugs Remix featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
ABOUT THE SONG
"It's a completely different type of singing for me," she stated. "I love what they do and I think their style is so unique. You can tell in a lot of R&B their style is starting to penetrate. I was very inspired by them when I came up with the song and I told Puffy let's do a Bone Thugs type track. We got Stevie J (Puffy's right hand producer) to lay down the track and I wrote the melody over it. I wrote the song to fit in with that type of style they do and I realised it's really hard to sing those types of rhythm. They make it sound so easy. Now, having experienced the difficulty at first hand. I respect them even more.”
Blues & Soul (UK) “Butterfly kisses,,, or in bed with Mariah!” by Jeff Lorez, September 23, 1997
"I told Thugs-N-Harmony I wanted to record something with them. Their reaction was something like "OK...". I think I shock people with the ideas I have, but I believe the result is ok. You know you keep working on, so you don't realize you're breaking down, because you are so fixed on the thing you're working on. That's what this song is about.”
"I did Breakdown with Krayzie and Wish Bone from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. It's one of my favorites. I think it's a really strong collaboration. This is a very personal album. It's an album I could listen to as a whole. With other albums I could skip certain songs. This album I listen to from start to finish. With this album, every word and every emotion I put into it is coming from me. I don't think I abandoned who I am. I think I just added another dimension to myself.”
Jet (US) “Mariah Carey Soars With New Soulful Album ‘Butterfly’” October 13, 1997
TABITHA SOREN: Tell me what it was like to work with Bone Thugs , and how you learned to sing like them, because it sounds like that would be really difficult.
MARIAH CAREY: Okay, I worked with Krazie and Wishbone, of Bone Thugs, and I was totally inspired by their style, first of all. I mean it's obvious when you hear the song. And we had quite the interesting recording session.
TS: Meaning what?
MC: It was just, it was interesting.
TS: You keep making these allusions to stuff that went on. "It was interesting"...
MC: No, it was great. I loved them, I loved them. But I was having an allergy attack. I was having a little problem, and the studio was kind of smoky and things were going on.
“I wanted to put out ‘Breakdown’ with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. That was a no brainer. Release it. I’ll always be upset ‘Breakdown’ never got it’s shot.”
VIBE Magazine, November 1998 – Danyel Smith
Craig Seymour: When you work with hip-hop producers, it’s all like, ‘oh, she’s trying to be this and that.’
CS: Do you think that’s because, I mean, because you’re perceived as kinda more white for whatever reason, for whatever unfair reason? I think white people are criticized more when they turn to black influences than when black people, like that Offspring song 'Pretty Fly For A White Guy.’ Anytime it’s perceived as somebody white taking on black influences then they usually set themselves up for more criticism.
MC: I don’t think I got that criticism from critics that understand the subtleties of doing a record like ‘Breakdown’ with Bone Thugs N Harmony and me adapting to their style, and how pretty intricate that was, you know, and how innovative of a move that was, even though they did not promote it very much. You know there were two songs released from that album seven months apart.
So, I mean, that will always hurt me because to me…that album had a lot of heart and soul in it, you know what I mean? But you know what, my first single was a number one r&b song, so I can’t say that. I know there was a conscious decision to go more pop after that.
“I feel like with the Butterfly album, it wasn't like I had something to prove, it was like I was doing what I wanted to do, I was expressing myself in the way that I wanted to express myself, and I didn’t feel like I was leaving anybody out. I gave the people who wanted to hear those straightforward ballads the ballads, and to me Breakdown is like an updated Always Be My Baby - it’s not that radically different because Bone Thugs N Harmony are on it. You know, it’s not like they’re on there rapping crazily, it’s melodi c, it’s… we merged our sounds, so I really think it was a misrepresentation of what that album, of what the Butterfly album is, for people to say ‘she’s crazy, she’s trying to be hip hop,’ I mean that’s not even it, it was a natural evolution, and I’ll stand by that.
#1s DVD Interview 1999
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Mariah got into harmony for the 1998 slow jam "Breakdown" off her sixth studio effort Butterfly. With a fluttery beat produced by Stevie J and Diddy, the single blended Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone's speedy flows with Carey's poignant prose. [Insert line of teary-eyed emojis here]
Krayzie: We were in Cleveland, and got a call from our manager at the time, Steve Lobel. He told us that Mariah wanted to do a song with us. Back then it was like, we didn't even realize what that meant, because we was fresh in the game. Still fresh off the streets.
We even played around with the flight she had set up. I remember being on the plane with Wish Bone, like, "I don't even know if I want to go." We were contemplating all the way up until they shut the door, and then we were like, "Well, it's too late now, we gotta go."
Wish: We walked in and I'll never forget -- we were starstruck as a motherfucker right there. Like, we're really about to get down with Mariah.
Krayzie: To our surprise, Mariah had it all set out. She had all the medicine that we needed to get our minds right when we went up in there. She had the Hennessy for us.
Wish: Literally, silver platters of all the goodies.
Krayzie: Knowing us, we overdosed a little bit, and passed out in the studio [laughs]. She was in there looking at us like we were crazy.
Wish: We had kind of gotten obliterated out of our minds, so we had to sit there in the zone for a little while. We were just like, "Oh wow." It's Mariah Carey, bringing the goodies to us. We're dapping each other up under the table like, "N--- you see this shit?!"
Krayzie: After we woke up, Stevie J was there. He played the track for us, we heard what she was doing. We just instantly started rapping, went in there and laid it out, and it just came out amazing.
Wish: She had a blueprint laid out for us, and then me and Krayzie started coming up with little things to add to the hook. It really wasn't nothing for us to do our verses because that's what we do.
Krayzie: When we did the video shoot, in every scene she had to have a fan like, blowing. We used to always crack jokes like, "Where's the fan, she can't do the scene without the fan!" She always needed that fan. She's glamorous all the time, you know what I'm saying?
Wish: We're actually planning a "Bone Day," a festival that we're going to throw every year in Cleveland, and we were thinking that to make it special, we'd do a [live] collaboration with one of the artists we've worked with over the years. If you're reading this Mariah, make sure you have your ass there!
Krayzie: We didn't even realize what we had done until the song actually came out -- then it was like, we did a good thing right here. Did a real good thing.
Billboard: April 12, 2016 “We Belong Together: Mariah Carey's Collaborators Share Untold Stories Behind 8 Classics” by Natalie Weiner and Adelle Platon
1997 Released on the Butterfly album.
2003 Included on The Remixes compilation.
2010 Included on the Playlist: The Very Best of Mariah Carey compilation.