From the slums of Calcutta to the opulent palaces of Monte Carlo, one thing unites the common man with the upper classes: an opinion on Mariah Carey. At this stage of her career, the woman with a window-shattering vocal range is unlikely to win over her detractors - especially if she continues to make albums as turgid as this, her 11th studio effort.
The title is almost a dead giveaway: a pun on the mathematical equation that unravels as 'Emancipation = Mariah Carey to the Power of Two (?)' is as nonsensical and pretentious an overture as it suggests. What's most frustrating about Carey is that it's obvious that she has the technical skill that has made her the globe-conquering vocalist that she is; but in previous years, she's foregone her glorious pop roots to pander to what she presumably sees as what's 'in' right now: soulless, generic r'n'b that only succeeds in making her exceedingly bland, not unique.
A multitude of guest appearances by various rappers/singers (T-Pain, Damian Marley, Young Jeezy) smack of 'Flavour of the Month', although Carey's cringeworthy Jamaican patois on Cruise Control merits a listen for its comedy value, at least. Gone are the days when a collaboration with someone like Jay-Z (the brilliant 'Heartbreaker') made for one of the best pop singles of the year.
There are glimpses of the old Mariah on the few occasions that she does side-step the muffled studio-trickery and desperately boring r'n'b-by-numbers (I'm That Chick, I'll Be Loving U Long Time, OOC), but they're all too few-and-far-between. For a woman so obsessed with the notion of independence and freedom, E=MC2 depicts a singer so desperate to remain 'relevant', that she'll pander to whatever genre is selling best at the moment - whatever the cost.