Mariah Carey is ready to explain herself – at least, in a way. She sits down for an interview with Pitchfork in 2018. And the reporter decides to ask about Carey’s long-standing feud with Jennifer Lopez. Specifically, a quote of Carey’s that became a meme required further explanation from the singer.
Carey and Lopez have exchanged plenty of public barbs with one another over the years. Their tiff traces back to 2001, in fact, when Lopez and her team allegedly encroached on Carey’s creative territory. From there, things were never the same between them – and a quote from Carey in 2008 would make their feud into an internet meme.
Of course, both women have had lucrative careers in music and beyond. For some reason, though, the Lopez-Carey feud keeps resurfacing – and the ladies keep telling their side of the story. So Carey’s 2018 declaration simply marked the most recent episode in a very long history of discord between the pair.
Mariah Carey’s music career began back in the early 1990s. At that time, her eponymous debut album skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard charts and stayed there for almost three months. The songstress’ first five singles topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, too – and she remains the only artist to achieve such a feat.
Since then, Carey has racked up a slew of accolades for her contributions to music. For one thing, she has five Grammy Awards, including the trophy for 1991’s Best New Artist. Close to two decades after that, she earned her 18th number-one hit with “Touch My Body” – a total unmatched by any solo artist in U.S. chart history.
Throughout it all, Carey has made herself famous for her incredible singing abilities. She can hit notes within a stunning five-octave range, and she deploys her whistle register for added dazzle. As it stands today, these talents have made her one of the best-selling music artists ever, with more than 200 million of her records bought across the world.
Around the same time that Carey got her start, Jennifer Lopez did, too. She first appeared on In Living Color, but left the show in 1993 in order to focus on acting. Four years later, her efforts had paid off – Lopez was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work in the biopic Selena.
But Lopez hasn’t limited her career just to movies, of course. She released her first studio album in 1999 called On the 6, and the record reinvigorated the American pop music scene with some Latin flair. Then, in 2001 her follow-up J.Lo topped the album charts, while her movie The Wedding Planner stood as the nation’s top box-office draw. No woman had previously achieved this feat.
Such a milestone serves as just one example of how monumental Lopez’s career has been. Her movies have raked in an incredible $3 billion to date, and she’s sold 80 million records around the world. Moreover, in 2012 Forbes cemented her status when they named her the planet’s most powerful star.
And yet, in spite of their successful careers, a longstanding feud has developed between Carey and Lopez. It all started in 2001, when Carey apparently came up with the idea to sample Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Firecracker.” She wanted to repurpose the tune for her track “Loverboy.”
But fans of Lopez will know that their diva beat Carey to the punch. There have been reports that Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola, whom Carey had divorced in 1998, heard about Carey’s plans for “Loverboy.” He subsequently took Carey’s intended sample and used it on a track called “I’m Real” by Lopez, who was signed to Sony subsidiary Epic.
A year later, Carey addressed the sample-stealing drama when she spoke to MTV. “Let’s just say they did me a favor,” she said. “And they know who they are. And thank you, sweetie. And your friend who did it with you!” Those close to the situation subsequently stated that Lopez was the “sweetie” whom Carey referenced here.
Some good did come of the feud at that time, though. As Sony executive Mottola had allegedly stolen Carey’s idea, she’s said to have used the incident as leverage to get out of her contract with the record label. Instead, she moved to EMI for a reported $80 million on a five-album deal.
Then came perhaps the most famous statement made so far in this feud between two divas. In 2008 Carey appeared on a German television show for an interview. During the conversation, the singer was asked questions about other female artists. For instance, when they asked her about Beyoncé, Carey responded, “I love Beyoncé. Beyoncé is fabulous, and she’s a great writer. Very sweet.”
After that, though, the interviewer made the mistake of asking Carey her opinions on Lopez, six years on from their alleged falling out. Upon hearing her foe’s name, Carey started shaking her head. Then, she muttered what would become an infamous statement and, years later, an internet meme. Carey replied simply, “I don’t know her.”
Before that quote reached meme status, though, more drama between Carey and Lopez transpired. It would be J.Lo’s turn to address the tension next, and she did so in 2014. At that time, she appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. Specifically, the TV host put Lopez through his “Plead the Fifth” segment, in which he asks questions about a person’s past or relationships – and they can only veto one of his inquiries.
After asking Lopez about her relationship with former flame Ben Affleck, Cohen moved onto her relationship with Carey – or the lack thereof. “I don’t have a feud against her at all,” Lopez began. “I know from back in the day, I’ve read things that she’s said about me that weren’t the greatest.”
However, Lopez then seemed to confirm Carey’s infamous “I don’t know her” quote. The “Jenny from the Block” singer said, “We have never met. Like, we don’t know each other… I think it’s kind of from word of mouth things that have happened in the past that I’m not really aware off. But I don’t know.”
Then, Lopez seemed to make an effort to smooth things over between herself and Carey. She praised the diva, saying, “I would love to meet [Carey], and I would love to be friends with her. I think she’s incredibly talented and I’ve always been a fan of hers… It saddens me to hear anything that’s negative because I’m a big fan of hers.”
But Lopez’s efforts did little but gloss over a long-standing divide between her and Carey. Just a year after Lopez’s interview with Cohen, Carey did one of her own with The Cut. And although she didn’t directly reference the ongoing drama with J.Lo, she still alluded to it.
During the 2015 interview, The Cut’s Véronique Hyland asked Carey about the presents that her fans had given her recently. Carey then hinted at the infamous “I don’t know her” debacle, revealing, “Well, there was a very interesting shirt that a fan made with a quote that I said years ago that, when I said it, I really wasn’t trying to be funny.”
Carey went on to address the 2008 interview in which she’d made the comment. “I was just being honest and everybody’s kind of blowing it out of proportion,” she said. This tied into the interviewer’s question about fan gifts because one of Carey’s fans “had a shirt on and it was a picture of me that he made and the quote underneath it,” she explained.
That same year, Lopez made another statement regarding her drama with Carey – but not in the literal sense. In 2015, Carey had a made a high-profile appearance at the Billboard Music Awards. And as she Carey sang, the camera panned to Lopez, who was seen scrolling through her Instagram feed instead of watching Carey.
In March of 2016 Lopez appeared on Watch What Happens Live again. And host Cohen couldn’t help but bring up the singer’s cell phone usage during Carey’s Billboard Music Awards gig. Lopez defended her actions, however, claiming that they weren’t as they appeared on TV. “First of all – that was not fair them with the texting thing,” she said.
Lopez went on to claim that she in fact saw most of Carey’s mini concert. “I watched a lot of it,” Lopez stated. “It was a long performance. I watched most of it. I may have looked down for one second… so not fair! I was watching her the whole time.” From there, Cohen broached the topic of Las Vegas residencies – at the time, both Lopez and Carey had shows in Sin City.
Specifically, Cohen wanted to know why Lopez hadn’t ever appeared on-stage at Carey’s show. Regardless of how obvious the answer may have been, Lopez replied, “I think last year when it started I was already here in New York filming Shades of Blue and doing Idol on the weekends – didn’t have a lot of time.”
At the end of the interview, though, Lopez told Cohen that she did intend to check out Carey’s residency at Caesar’s Palace. “I want to see it,” she said. “Why not?” But when Lopez appeared on The Wendy Williams Show a few days later, she made it more clear why she hadn’t yet seen Carey’s show.
First, Lopez spoke about her own stint on the Las Vegas stage. “The residency was a dream,” she said. “When I think of Vegas, I think of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley and iconic performers.” She then recalled why she’d decided to accept the offer to perform there in the first place.
“Before I even signed my deal to go to Vegas, when they were offering it to me, I went and saw a bunch of shows,” Lopez explained. “I saw everybody. I saw Britney Spears, I saw Shania Twain.” Lopez then added, “I didn’t see Mariah because at the time she wasn’t playing.”
Referencing Carey’s famous “I don’t know her” line, Williams responded, “Who?” before adding, “No, I’m playing. That’s what Mariah said about Jennifer one time.” Lopez smiled upon hearing the reference, saying, “She does say that. She’s forgetful I guess. We’ve met many times. I don’t know… I don’t know her that well.”
As things stand, Carey has had the last word in the feud when in late 2018 she once again addressed her comment from a decade earlier. She spoke to Pitchfork’s Alex Frank, who asked Carey if she ever saw the memes or GIFs that she had become. “Some of them, yes,” Carey replied. “It is what it is. You have to embrace it.”
Of course, Frank couldn’t help but bring up Carey’s most famous statement of all – “I don’t know her” – and the popular meme it created. Carey then explained the statement further in a way that perhaps seemed to be an even bigger diss to Lopez. “I really was trying to say something nice or say nothing at all,” she stated. “I really was.”
Carey concluded her meme-centric conversation with Pitchfork by lamenting the fact that people dissect everything that comes out of her mouth. “I try to stay away from it, because you can’t drown in that,” Carey admitted. “I don’t know how people read comments all the time and then survive.”
Since then, Carey has kept busy with non-Lopez-related matters. And her career continues to thrive. In December of 2018, for instance, she broke the Spotify record for the highest number of streams in a single day for her festive classic “All I Want For Christmas is You.” On December 25, the tune racked up close to 11 million plays.
In 2019 Carey embarked on her Caution world tour, which saw the songstress performing all over Europe and the United States. Her shows earned her glowing reviews, especially for her vocal strength. That same year, the Billboard Music Awards honored Carey by handing the legendary singer the Icon Award.
And, in true Carey fashion, she made waves on the internet in 2019 for her participation in yet another online meme. This time, it was the bottle-cap challenge, wherein people thought of clever ways to flip the tops off of bottles. At first, they’d video themselves roundhouse-kicking the caps off – but then, participants such as Carey got creative.
For her turn, Carey relies on her famously high-pitched vocals, rather than on her foot, to uncap the bottle. She positions her hands as if she’s going to karate-chop the top off, but then puts one over an ear instead. Then, she launches into a very high note, which shakes the bottle to the point that it loses its lid.
Lopez’s success has also continued in spite of her ongoing feud with Carey. As for the “I’m Real” singer, she started 2019 by starring in the romantic comedy Second Act, for which critics praised her performance. But crowds weren’t as kind, however, about Lopez’s 2019 Grammy’s performance that saw her pay tribute to Motown with a medley of famous songs.
Things turned around for Lopez in March 2019, though, when her longtime boyfriend, former baseball player Alex Rodriguez asked her to marry him. Lopez said yes to his proposal, although the pair have had to delay their walk down the aisle. That’s because Lopez is scheduled to film another movie in October and record the film’s soundtrack, too.
And, in September of 2019 Lopez will appear as a stripper in the based-on-a-true-story film Hustlers, a role that’s garnering her Oscar buzz. Regardless of whether or not she wins, one thing is for sure – there’s no way that Carey or anyone else can claim that they “don’t know her” anymore.