In a little over a month, Mariah Carey plans to release her memoir, The Meaning Of Mariah Carey. While this represents a milestone in the singer’s storied career, hip-hop fans are looking forward with equal eagerness to her own fans because of her rumored connection with Eminem. With celebrity gossip magazines positing Carey’s plans to expose the truth behind their supposed six-month relationship — and all the drama that followed — fans of both artists (as well as of beef and celebrity gossip in general) have plenty of reason to look forward to the book.
The feud between the two stars stems back as far as 2002, when Em derogatorily name-checked Mariah in songs as he did so many other pop stars of the day. The difference in this case was that the singer had allegedly met with the rapper the year before to discuss the latter making an appearance on her 2002 album Charmbracelet. However, rather than a business liaison, it seemed the pair formed an amorous one — at least, in the version of events Eminem has maintained since.
Carey, however, has denied that there was ever any such romantic relationship between them, despite Eminem’s many references to it over the years. In fact, so contentious was their rivalry that even Carey’s ex-husband Nick Cannon got involved, developing his own long-standing beef with Eminem that continues to this day. With so much history and so many contradictory accounts involved, Carey’s memoir stands to become her definitive statement on the quarrel — and possibly shed light on just how things got so complicated to begin with.
Below is a timeline — incomplete though it may be — of the reasons fans can’t wait to see what Mariah Carey says about Eminem in her new book.
2002: Eminem Says He Dated Mariah, Mariah Denies It
The first public evidence of the feud between these two superstars dates back to 2002. Eminem mentioned Mariah in a lyric on his song “Superman” from his fourth album, The Eminem Show. “What you tryin’ to be, my new wife?” he questions on the track. “What you Mariah? Fly through twice.” Elsewhere on the same album, Em drops her into a bar on “When The Music Stops,” sneering, “What the f*ck you take me for, a joke? You smokin’ crack? / Before I do that, I’d beg Mariah to take me back.”
However, that same year, Mariah denied Em’s assertion to no less an authority than Larry King, telling the long-tenured talk host, “I hung out with him, I spoke to him on the phone. I think I was probably with him a total of four times. And I don’t consider that dating somebody.” She reiterated her denial in an interview with Maxim magazine that same year.
2003: Mariah Musically Claps Back
In 2003, Carey became the first pop star to openly respond to Eminem’s goading on a record, on the song “Clown” from her ninth studio album Charmbracelet. Undercutting his Eminem Show provocations, Mariah sang, “I should’ve left it at ‘I like your music too’” and “You should’ve never intimated we were lovers / When you know very well we never even touched each other.” During one performance of the song, she even reportedly dressed a dancer in a blonde wig, referencing the dye job Em sported in the first half of his career, and a Detroit Pistons jersey, an obvious reference to the rapper’s hometown. Her return volley was the first of an ongoing rally that lasted for the next ten years.
2005-2009: Eminem Returns Fire
On his Anger Management tour in 2005, Eminem turned up the dial on his accusations, playing voicemail clips he insisted were left by Carey saying things like, “I heard you were getting back with your ex-wife. Why won’t you see me? Why won’t you call me?” He reportedly played the clips before launching into his song “Puke,” while pantomiming obvious nausea.
The next year, Em appeared on the Shady Records compilation album, Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, with more vitriol aimed at Mariah. The song “Jimmy Crack Corn” once again named the singer, as Em rapped, “As 50 would say, ‘Our clothing line’s on Fiyaa’ / Meanwhile, your mind’s on us, like mine’s on Mariah / And y’all is just like her, you’re all f*cking liars.”
Then, in 2009, Eminem took more shots at Carey after she married Nick Cannon in 2008. “Mariah, what ever happened to us?” he scoffed on the Relapse song “Bagpipes From Baghdad.” “Nick Cannon better back the f*ck up,” he continued. “I’m not playin’, I want her back, you punk.”
2009: Mariah Declares Eminem “Obsessed”
While Nick Cannon himself issued a blog post in response, the real haymaker came from Carey herself, who released the song “Obsessed” complete with a video in which Mariah satirizes Eminem by dressing up as him and stalking herself. The song was a huge success too, peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. While Mariah never specifically mentioned Eminem in the song or the video, it was obvious to anyone watching just who she was taking aim at.
2009: Eminem Issues A “Warning”
“The Warning,” Eminem’s seething diss track, followed “Obsessed,” bringing with it a cascade of new accusations from the scorned rapper. Among them: That Eminem and Carey had dated for over six months, that they’d had sex one time, during which Em suffered a premature orgasm, that Carey was an alcoholic, and that she’d flown out to visit him multiple times on her private plane. He also threatens to release even more intimate voicemails than the ones he played during his tour.
2010-2019: The Cold War Begins But Eminem Breaks The Ice
Between “The Warning” and the next volley, things were relatively quiet between the two superstars as Em shifted his attention to mostly ignoring Nick Cannon as the latter offered up a string of diss tracks that barely moved the needle. Nick even challenged Eminem to a boxing match at one point, but that was apparently not the main event fans really wanted to see.
Then, in 2019, a new rejuvenated Eminem appeared on Fat Joe’s Family Ties album to reignite the long-simmering discord between himself and Mariah Carey after his Kamikaze album was well-received by fans as a return to celebrity-dissing form. Em once again dropped Mariah’s name in his “Lord Above” verse: “…This is all puns aside though / I know me and Mariah didn’t end on a high note / But that other dude’s whipped. That pussy got him neutered / Tried to tell him this chick’s a nutjob ‘fore he got his jewels clipped.”
Cannon once again rose up (despite being divorced from Carey since 2015) but was mostly ignored by Eminem (although Em’s associate 50 Cent got in his fair share of cyberbullying against Nick), who is seemingly reserving smoke for the true object of his obsession.
Now, with Mariah Carey’s book release right around the corner, speculation has resumed that Carey might take the opportunity to get ahead of anything Eminem might say or release some bit of scathing information that will put him in his place. However, given Mariah Carey is also the celebrity who gave us the “I Don’t Know Her” meme, fans shouldn’t hold their breath. We may never know what really happened between the two, but it’s certainly one of the wildest celebrity feuds this side of Kanye vs. Taylor.
The Meaning Of Mariah Carey is out on September 29. Get it here.