The Roof (Back in Time)

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"The Roof (Back in Time)"
Single by Mariah Carey featuring Mobb Deep and Big Noyd
from the album Butterfly
Released March 20, 1998
Format CD single, 12" single
Recorded 1996-1997
Genre R&B, hip hop
Length 5:14
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Mariah Carey, Jean Claude Oliver, Samuel Barnes, Cory Rooney
Producer(s) Mariah Carey, Trackmasters
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Butterfly"
(1997)
"The Roof (Back in Time)"
(1998)
"Breakdown"
(1998)

"The Roof (Back in Time)" is a song by American singer-songwriter Mariah Carey, taken from her sixth studio album, Butterfly (1997). It was released as the third single from the album in Europe, on March 20, 1998 by Columbia Records. Like "Butterfly" and "Breakdown", "The Roof" received a limited worldwide release due to Carey's conflict at the time with Columbia. The song was written and produced by Carey and the Trackmasters, and is built around a sample from "Shook Ones part II" by Mobb Deep. The song's lyrics recount an intimate roof-top encounter between lovers, and how the memory affects the protagonist. The extended remix features a rap verse by Mobb Deep; both versions were well received by contemporary music critics.

In the music video, Carey is seen in a limousine recounting an encounter she shared on a rainy night. Additionally, past scenes of the event are shown, with Carey caressing her lover at a roof-top party. During the videos climax, Carey open the limousines sun-roof and stands in the rain, trying to recapture the moments she shared in the rain. Aside from the Japanese concerts, Carey performed the song live during her Butterfly World Tour in 1998. Due to the song's limited release, "The Roof" did not chart in most major music markets, with the exception of The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, where it peaked at numbers 63 and 96, respectively.

Composition[edit]

A sample of the last chorus and final bridge, featuring the song's strong vocal moments.

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"The Roof" was released on July 28, 1998 by Columbia Records.[1] The song is a slow and sultry song, which blends hip-hop and contemporary R&B genres.[1] It incorporates drum notes, including heavy beats and grooves.[1] The song's second version features a rap version from Trackmasters. The song samples the melody from "Shook Ones Part II" by Mobb Deep, incorporating it into chorus and bridge. As part of "layering the song," background vocals are featured throughout the chorus and sections of the bridge. Its is set in the signature common time, and is written in the key of E major.[2] It features a basic chord progression of A-F1.[2] Carey's vocal range in the song spans from the low note of E3 to the high note of F5; the piano and guitar pieces range from F3 to G5 as well.[2] The song contains choral lyrics written by Carey, who produced the song's melody and chorus as well. Aside from assisting with its chord progression, Cory Rooney co-arranged and produced the track as well.[1] Author Chris Nickson felt the song was extremely important for Carey's musical transition, writing "Lyrically, this was some of her best work ever, the melody slinky and overtly sexy, confirmation – as if any was needed at this point! – that this was the new Mariah."[1]

Critical reception[edit]

"The Roof" was commended by contemporary music critics for its choice of vocal work, instrumentation and lyrics. David Browne from Entertainment Weekly praised the song as well as Carey's choice of vocals, writing "Carey is still a vocal grandstander capable of turning all into a six-syllable word. Yet for most of the album she keeps her notorious octave-climbing chops at bay. Showing some admirable restraint, she nestles herself into the downy-soft beats of 'The Roof'."[3] Rich Juzwiak from Slant wrote "Little more than yearning, kissing, and remembering happens during the course of 'The Roof,' a rough-enough R&B revision of Mobb Deep's 'The Shook Ones.' But lyrically Mariah the writer is vivid, sometimes shockingly clever (rhyming 'liberated' with 'Moet' is a stroke of genius)."[4]

Chart performance[edit]

"The Roof" was chosen as the third single from Butterfly, receiving an airplay-only release. Because of conflict between Carey and her record label at the time, Sony Music Entertainment, it was only given a commercial release in Europe, while "Breakdown" was released throughout Oceania.[1] In the UK, the song peaked at number 96 during the week of April 4, 1998.[5] "The Roof" stayed in the UK Singles Chart for one week before falling outside the top 100.[5] In the Netherlands, it performed weakly as well, peaking at number 63 while spending five weeks fluctuating in the Dutch Singles Chart.[6]

Music video[edit]

The video showing a wet Carey in the back of the limousine

The music video for "The Roof" garnered critical acclaim, and was ranked 18th on Slant's "100 Greatest Music Videos".[7] Sal Ciquemani, from Slant, gave the video a positive review, complimenting Carey's choice to pair the sultry song with a "sophisticated tale of a sexy rooftop encounter".[7] The video re-tells a story of Carey reminiscing a past love and a night they shared together on a rainy roof-top. The video's setting revolves around a dark limousine, a decrepit NYC apartment, and a rainy roof-top, where "Carey is featured at her most vulnerable, with runny mascara and drenched in the cold rainy night."[7] In the conclusion of his review of the video, Ciquemani wrote: "When Carey rises through the limo's sunroof and relishes the warm November rain, she's not drunk on the bubbly but on the memory of past delights."[7]

The video was directed by Carey and Diane Martel during the spring of 1998. The music video begins with Carey sitting alone in a limousine, recalling a night she shared some time previous. As scenes of Carey reminiscing in the limo are shown, clips of her dressing in an old apartment are presented. Eventually, Carey joins a roof-top party one night, where she begins dancing and caressing her lover. As the passion between them grown, rain begins to fall, showering everyone atop the edifice. As these scenes end, Carey in the present opens the sun-roof of the limo and stands into the rainy night, trying to recapture those magical moments she shared on that rainy roof-top encounter. The video ends with a wet Carey lying in the back of the limousine, sad and lonely.

Live performances[edit]

"The Roof" was performed few times throughout Carey's career.[8] The song was performed during her Butterfly World Tour in 1998. During the performances, live male and female dancers were present on stage, grooving and performing classic routines.[8] Carey wore a short beige ensemble and performed light classical dances, alongside a male partner. Aside from those performances, Carey has not performed the song live on any televised appearance or concert.[8]

Tracks listing and formats[edit]

CD Single[9]

  1. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Album Version) – 5:15
  2. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Radio Edit) – 3:58
  3. "The Roof" (Mobb Deep Extended Version) – 5:31
  4. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Full Crew's Club Mix) – 4:58
  5. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Full Crew Mix) – 4:58

Austria Promo Single[10]

  1. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Full Crew Radio Edit) (No Rap) - 3:50
  2. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Mobb Deep Radio Edit) - 4:23
  3. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Morales Radio Mix) - 3:58

12" Vinyl Single[11]

  1. "The Roof" (Mobb Deep Extended Remix) – 5:31
  2. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Full Crew's Club Mix) – 4:58
  3. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Full Crew Mix) – 4:58
  4. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Full Crew Radio Edit/No Rap) – 3:50
  5. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Funky Club Mix) – 8:28
  6. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (After Hours Mix) – 9:13
  7. "The Roof (Back in Time)" (Bass Man Mix) – 8:14

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Butterfly liner notes.[12]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
position
The Netherlands (MegaCharts)[6] 63
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company)[5] 96

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Nickson 1998, p. 167
  2. ^ a b c Abrego 1998, pp. 30–35
  3. ^ Browne, David (1997-09-19). "Music Review – Mariah Carey: Butterfly". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  4. ^ Juzwiak, Rich (2003-12-18). "Music Review: Mariah Carey: Butterfly". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  5. ^ a b c "Chart Log UK 1994–2008: D". zobbel.de. Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  6. ^ a b "Mariah Carey – The Roof" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlands Top 40. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  7. ^ a b c d Cinquemani, Sal (2003-06-30). "100 Greatest Music Videos". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  8. ^ a b c Nickson 1998, p. 168
  9. ^ The Roof (Back in Time) (European CD Single liner notes). Mariah Carey. Columbia Records. 1998. 665521 2. 
  10. ^ The Roof (Back in Time) (Austria Promo Single liner notes). Mariah Carey. Columbia Records. 1998. XPCD 970. 
  11. ^ The Roof (Back in Time) (US 12-inch Vinyl Single liner notes). Mariah Carey. Columbia Records. 1998. 665727 6. 
  12. ^ Butterfly (Liner Notes). Mariah Carey. Columbia Records. 1997. 

Bibliography[edit]