I like to come up with my own musical ideas, even down to the loops
- Mariah Carey
Written by Mariah Carey, Dave Hall, Adrian Belew, Chris Frantz, Steven Stanley & Tina Weymouth
Produced by Mariah Carey & Dave Hall
Samples “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club
4:06 Album Version
3:05 Daydream Interlude (Fantasy Sweet Dub Mix) Album Version
4:51 Bad Boy Fantasy featuring O.D.B.
4:52 Bad Boy featuring O.D.B.
4:14 Bad Boy Mix
11:15 Def Club Mix
3:59 Def Drums Mix
6:29 MC Mix
4:53 Puffy’s Mix
4:49 Puffy’s Club Mix
3:44 Radio Mix
8:11 Sweet Dub Mix
8:53 The Boss Dub
ABOUT THE SONG
- I really wanted Puffy to do the remix and the first thing I said to him when I met him was, 'I wanna get O.D.B. to come and do this' because his flavour is perfect for the track. A lot of my audience I'm sure isn't familiar with that but hey... you know, what can you do?” - Blues & Soul (UK) Issue: October 24, 1995 “Daydream Believer” by Jeff Lorez
- I like to come up with my own musical ideas, even down to the loops. Like the idea to use the Tom Tom Club for "Fantasy" was mine and I came up with the idea to use the Mobb Deep loop for "The Roof" which I did with the Trackmasters, which, by the way, is my favorite song on the album.” - Blues & Soul (UK) Issue: September 23, 1997 “Butterfly kisses,,, or in bed with Mariah!” by Jeff Lorez
- ODB expressing his unrequited feelings for MC: “I want to tear her a—up.” - Entertainment Weekly Issue 398 by Degen Pener – Sept 26, 1997
- Fantasy is definitely one of my favorite songs - the version on the album [#1s] is with ODB and everybody wanted the regular version to go on, but I think it’s pretty important for me to put that version on it. Doing ‘Fantasy’ with ODB in 95 was not exactly a ‘pop’ move. You know, that was way before ‘Ghetto Superstar,’ you know, it wasn’t like, that was like ‘oh, you know, every little pop singer in the land is using him’ you know? I was just a fan of Wu Tang and was a fan of his. It was actually a last minute decision to do the remix video. I mean, I knew that I wanted to do it, but I didn’t know… it was such an undertaking to direct the video and to be in the video that you’re directing, is a big deal. - #1s DVD Interview 1999
- In '95, Carey worked with Puff Daddy on a "Fantasy" remix, which featured the Wu Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard rapping the memorable line: "Me and Mariah go back like babies and pacifiers.” "Anyone who heard 'Fantasy' in 1995 with Ol' Dirty Bastard knew that's what I was into," says Carey. "I was a Wu Tang fan.” - Washington Post “On the Bright Track: Mariah Carey, putting the past behind her and a sparkle in her step” by Craig Seymour - November 14, 1999
- “I had the melody idea for ‘Fantasy’ and then I was listening to the radio and heard ‘Genius of Love,’ and I hadn’t heard it in a long time,’ recalls Mariah Carey. ‘It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and the feeling that song gave me seemed to go with the basic idea I had for ‘Fantasy.’ I initially told Dave Hall about the idea and we did it.”… “We called up the Tom Tom Club and they were really into it.” - Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Page 841, 2003
- “The classic now is the urban version. It’s one of my favorite records ever.” - Blender “The Secret Life of Mariah Carey” by William Shaw, March 2005
- One of Carey’s earliest direct connections to rap was in ’96. “I was dying to work with O.D.B. [of the Wu Tang Clan] on a remix of ‘Fantasy,’ may he rest in peace. “I pulled the wool over my record company’s eyes, because they had no idea what or who I was talking about when I mentioned O.D.B.,” she says. “That record was also the first time I worked with Puffy. It was a turning point for me because it was an official street record. I’d be walking around New York and hear it blasting out of Jeeps.” - PARIAH CAREY – NEW ALBUM, NEW ATTITUDE – BUT MARIAH’S STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS by Dan Aquilante April 10, 2005
- “This record was a major turning point in my career as a recording artist. The collaboration with both Bad Boy and O.D.B. was so unexpected yet exactly what I really wanted to be doing for myself. This song remains one of my proudest and happiest moments. If I wanted to be cocky, I would say that this song helped pave the way for a specific genre of rap collaborations that followed. And many careers were made on this specific model. Whenever I hear the song, it still makes me smile. I freaking love it! RIP O.D.B.” - 2015, #1 to Infinity liner notes (in reference to the Bad Boy Fantasy Mix)
- Carey’s fifth biggest single ever “Fantasy” marked a number of firsts for the singer: her first collaboration with a rapper (the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, then in the midst of the Wu-Tang Clan’s heyday), her first debut atop the Hot 100 (she was the second artist, and first woman ever to do so), and her first self-directed music video (the dreamy, carnival-themed clip featuring many memorable appearances by ODB’s grill). Built on the irrepressible groove and hook from Tom Tom Club’s 1981 “Genius Of Love,” the song was pop-radio catnip -- and with ODB and Puff Daddy helming the remix, hip-hop heads were powerless to resist, too. Twenty one years later, the single stands as one of the decade’s most enduring tracks. From Mariah’s opening a cappella run and ODB’s “Keeping it real, son,” “Fantasy” proved to pop producers that hip-hop’s streetwise grit could make songs more appealing, spawning legions of imitators in the process. Below, Dave Hall (the song’s writer/producer), Cory Rooney (the A&R rep on the song), and Nashiem Myrick (engineer) tell the story behind the singer’s iconic hit.
Rooney: As powerful as Tommy Mottola was, and as much as he controlled the world of pop music, he really had no reach in the world of urban music. I had come from Uptown Records (Mary J. Blige's What’s The 411? and things like that) so right away, as an executive, he would defer to me. It started with me connecting him with Dave Hall [a producer for Blige, among others].
Hall: I worked on her single the year before, "Dreamlover" -- I produced and co-wrote that with her. That was the first time we worked together. They wanted a little bit more of an urban sound for Mariah. I was a young, up-and-coming producer, so I wasn't going to say no.
Rooney: With the original album version, everybody in urban radio, and even urban inside the building [at Sony], was like, “Nice record, great sample, but really pop with all the bells, string lines, etc.”
Hall: At that point in time in music, the sample was really big. It was different for the pop [world] -- they weren't really doing that. So I guess what I gave her was a little bit of urban -- but not too much. Enough for her to be edgy, but the core fanbase was still happy. She came by my studio, and said she liked that record ["Genius of Love"]. About four hours in, just working through chord progressions and her singing melody lines, we got the concept. I used to just run the tape, and let her just freestyle on the mic for 15, 20 minutes. Just let them be free, and they'll run into what it's gonna be. I think that art is lost now. The way people write songs now is by email -- you miss out on that interaction between creative people. But too many people [in the studio] is a hindrance also.
She's just a real focused person when she's in the studio -- she makes sure it's perfect. Her vocals gotta be perfect. Some quirky stuff, I'm not gonna comment on, because I still make records for a living [laughs].
We wrote another song the same day ["Slipping Away," later released as a B-side]. It was a ballad, a slow song. I kept hearing people say, "This is the best song she ever wrote," and I never even realized she put it out!
Rooney: Tommy said, “Man, who could we get to remix this record, bring it to the center of pop and urban?” And without even hesitating, I said Puffy. I knew Puffy from the Uptown days -- since he was an intern for us there.
He's so rude sometimes, but there's a method to his madness. He would just bluntly come in, like, “Oh my god, that's whack -- erase that.” And you're looking at him like, “Who the hell are you? You're not a musician, what the hell do you know. You don’t know shit about music.” But when you backed away from the board, you’d go, “Damn, this shit is alright.” Just raw hip-hop. That's what his ears told him to do, and he did it. You got to respect the ears of someone like Puffy -- he was a consumer more than anything.
First Tommy shot it down. He said, “We need someone more musically inclined.” I said, “Tommy please -- we need the opposite. We need a guy who's going to completely disrespect this record.” That was Puffy in my eyes, all day long. He ran it by Mariah, who loved the idea because she was a huge fan of Puffy's. I reached out to Puff right away, who said, “Absolutely not, she's whack. I'm on a little streak right now.” You know that's the way he talks. He said, “I don't need no whack juice on me right now.”
So I sent him some stuff [about her], and he called me about an hour later, saying, “Yo, you didn't tell me she sold like 28 million records. You think they'd give me $60,000 to produce this?” I said, “Yes, I can get you that, no doubt about it.” Lo and behold, without hesitation, Mariah, Tommy, everybody agreed to give it to him.
He showed up to the studio and within 15 minutes, he said that the first problem with the record, other than all them corny bells and shit, was they looped the wrong part of the sample. That ain’t the hot part. He said you had to get the break part and the drums, that's the part that's hot. Then he did his parts on there ("What you gonna do when you get out of jail/I'm going to do a remix").
Puff had Mariah sing certain things over, but she was never in the studio with him. At the time with Tommy it was like, this was his wife. And it’s young Puff, who's all over the place. Once that came together, the only thing missing was a rapper. Puff said he wasn't going to rap on it, but Mariah suggested ODB, because she loved what he did with SWV. She loved his records, period -- all the Wu-Tang stuff. We would ride around in her limo, and she’d have a little pink boombox, listening to friggin’ ODB records. And the look on Tommy’s face...like, “This is the most ignorant shit ever.” He was miserable. But it's what she loved.
Myrick: I did the programming for Puff -- I actually did the remix, you know what I mean? It was simple because we used the same [sample] as the original, we just broke it down to the essence, made it more hip-hop. Slowed it down. The pocket was totally different -- the original was more up-tempo, more mainstream at the time. We just took it down -- you know, it's the Bad Boy remix, so it's gotta be raw.
I could tell it was a hit when I did it -- even without Ol' Dirty Bastard, the way she was sounding on it...since we slowed it down, I had to have the engineer take her vocals and tune them to the sample. It's still in the same key, but slowed down [a tiny bit lower]. Hearing her screaming over the raw version that we had put down, it was out of here. That song was already on the radio -- it was already a single -- and it was Mariah Carey, so that's 50 percent of it right there.
Me and Puff had one of our little tug of wars -- to this day, people remember we used to actually fight. I think it was because I was taking a little too long to do the remix, and he knew [ODB] was on the way. I'm like, he can't be beefin’, he don't even know how work the equipment! He don't know what it takes! What the hell is this guy talking about?
Rooney: I reached out to ODB and he wanted $15,000 to rap on the record. At the time, that was a lot of money, but it really wasn't for Mariah Carey's budget -- so, no problem. He finally showed up, three hours late, and when he got there, it was about 10:30 at night. He had been drinking, and was on the phone when he walked in. Irate, screaming at some girl how he's gonna come kill her, he's going to kick her ass...and then whispering, “I love you.” Then screaming again. This went on for an hour.
He finally came out and was like, “Yo, pardon me, this bitch is driving me crazy. I need some Moet and Newports before we get into this record.” I said, “It's 12:30 at night now bro, I don't know where we’re going to get Moet from.” He started yelling at the assistants, calling them white devils, saying, “You white devils, y'all don't want black people to have shit.” They went out for like an hour, and the only thing they could find were some Heinekens. He was so disgusted, he threw a bottle on the floor.
At this point Mariah had been calling every hour on the hour, wanting to hear something over the phone. Tommy was pissed because Mariah was keeping him up, so he finally got on the phone with ODB -- and after that, finally we started to record. He said one line -- "me and Mariah, go back like babies with pacifiers" -- then paused, said, “Yo, I need to take a break,” and went to sleep for 45 minutes. He woke up and was like, “Yo, let me hear what I did so far.” We played his one line back, he sang another line or two, and then slept for another hour. He would come up with a line, punch that in, go to sleep. He went to sleep 3 different times in the middle of trying to get that one verse done. If you listen to the record now, on his verse, you can hear that it’s punched in in pieces. He actually told the engineer, “Y'all better have your shit set and record it right, cause I'm not doing it twice.”
I stayed in the studio until we finished it. So I was sleeping in the studio when Tommy and Mariah called me, and said they loved the record. But Tommy had a bright idea: let's get ODB back in the studio, and instead of just, “New York in the house,” do [a line] for every city. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Of course [ODB] wanted another $15,000. He came back to the studio, a little more mellow but dead tired. He's sitting there picking food out of his teeth -- he pulled a piece of food out of his mouth so big it was scary. I was like, “How long did you walk around with that food in your mouth?” Like, it was unbelievable. Then he fell asleep on couch, kicked one shoe off. His foot smelled so bad, we had to let him sleep and leave the control room. Eventually, we got the other parts done and that was that. I thought the story was over.
A week later, it was time to shoot a video. We reached out to him, and he wanted another $15,000 dollars. No problem. So I sent a car to his house and he drank every friggin’ thing in the limo, showed up at Rye Playland [in New York], and went to his trailer. I had asked him, “Do you need the stylist to buy clothes for you?” He said, “Nah, this is hip-hop -- I'm just rocking some jeans and Timbs.” [That day], he was in the trailer, in and out of consciousness, when I said, “We're getting ready to do a scene.” He said, “I don't got no clothes, how am I going to do a video if I ain’t got nothing to wear?” I started screaming at him.
Tommy told us take my corporate credit card to the mall. ODB disappeared for a minute, and we found him in a store trying to buy Louis Vuitton luggage. He said, “I'm going to use it for a scene.” He came back [to the set] with all these bags of Tommy Hilfiger clothes and Timberlands.
It was finally time for him to do his scene, and I promise you, he put on a pair of jeans and Timbs, and said, “I'm not going to wear a shirt, I don't need no clothes.” I wanted to shoot him. He was like, “I have an idea -- I want to tie up the clown.” Plus, Mariah turned him on to peach schnapps, which she used to always drink. He drank like two bottles of that. So between the hot sun and him drinking two bottles, what a disastrous day that was. The video was a miracle, a real miracle.
Myrick: Back then, there were two Hit Factories, a few blocks apart from each other. Me and Puff, we would walk between the studios all the time together. That's who he was at that time -- it was just me and him, walking New York City together. It was the infant stages of Bad Boy. Puff can't walk outside by himself no more.
Rooney: One night, we went to dinner at Sylvia's in Harlem -- me, Tommy, and Mariah. On our way back, we were riding in the limo and every club, every car was bumping "Fantasy." Mariah put her sunglasses on, and tears came down her cheeks, because she couldn't believe her record was getting played all through the hood. That was the beginning of her not turning back to pop.
She once told me though she was grateful for her success, she would trade in all of her record sales to get the respect that Mary J. Blige got. She said, “Mary doesn't have to sell 28 million records to be respected -- people respect Mary, and I just want to be respected like her.” -Billboard “We Belong Together: Mariah Carey's Collaborators Share Untold Stories Behind 8 Classics” by Natalie Weiner and Adelle Platon, April 12, 2016
1995 Released on the Daydream album.
1998 Included on the #1s compilation.
2001 Included on the Greatest Hits compilation.
2003 Def Club Mix & Bad Boy Mix included on The Remixes compilation.
2010 Included on the Playlist: The Very Best of Mariah Carey compilation.
2015 Included on the #1 to Infinity compilation.