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Carey's most recent album is also her most intimate, a frank portrayal of both the challenges and successes experienced throughout her rise to fame. Released in April 2005, The Emancipation of Mimi (Island Def Jam) strongly resonated with audiences, becoming that year's best-selling album in the U.S. and selling more than eight million units worldwide to date. While capturing three Grammys for Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song, Carey broke milestones with the album's three singles. "We Belong Together" (which spent an astonishing fourteen weeks at #1) and "Shake It Off" made her the only female artist ever to occupy the Billboard Hot 100's #1 and #2 spots in the same week. Her subsequent stand-alone single "Don't Forget About Us" became the biggest American radio hit of the year.
In 1998, eight years after her debut, Carey released #1's, a compilation of her chart-topping hits. The album also included a new song, "When You Believe" (from the film The Prince of Egypt), a duet with Whitney Houston that paired two of the most successful female recording artists in pop history. Rainbow followed in 1999 with startling success. With the album's first single, the popular "Heartbeaker," Carey became "the first artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s; the record also pushed her ahead of The Beatles as the artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop the Hot 100 singles chart," as affirmed by AllMusic.com. Mariah Carey subsequently sparked the interest of Universal Music Group's Island Def Jam Records, which signed her to an exclusive recording contract in May 2002. Later that year she made her label debut with the release of the multi-platinum Charmbracelet.
Evoking a nickname used by those closest to her, The Emancipation of Mimi marked Mariah Carey's tenth studio album with its release in April 2005. Entirely written and co-produced by Carey, and executive produced by Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman Antonio Reid, Mimi revealed an evolved musical sensibility in its tracks and a sophisticated new look on its cover. The album earned three Grammys from eight nominations across multiple categories, following a string of wins at the Vibe Awards, the American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards.