The queen of shade: Relive Mariah Carey’s most iconic moments

Mariah Carey has given us chart-topping hits and Grammy Award-winning albums, but it's time we spotlight her legendary shade.

Mariah Carey is many things. This year’s recipient of TheGrio Award’s Musical Icon Award is a chart-topping, Grammy-winning genius, a stellar songwriter, an esteemed actress, and a master of subtle shade. Over the years, Carey has given us countless chart-topping hits, musical masterpieces and cultural moments we’ll never forget. But one aspect of her star power often goes overlooked: her whip-smart, cutting humor.

Global Citizen Festival 2022: New York
Mariah Carey performs onstage during Global Citizen Festival 2022: New York at Central Park on September 24, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

Here, we take a look back at Mimi’s most iconic moments of shade:

“I don’t know her”

From a simple off-the-cuff Mariah moment, one of the greatest memes was born. In an interview from the early 2000s, Carey was asked her thoughts about singer Jennifer Lopez. Carey, slightly shaking her head, with a bright smile, simply states, “I don’t know her.”

Thus the “I don’t know her” saga was born. In the years that followed, the “Shake it Off” singer was asked repeatedly what she meant by the comment, considering Carey’s history with her old labelmate. As Carey details in her memoir, she felt sabotaged by her ex-husband Tommy Mottola in the leadup to her album and film “Glitter,” especially after a sample she acquired for the lead single was taken from her and given to Lopez for her song “I’m Real.”

Years later, Carey was asked by TMZ about the enduring nature of the meme, to which she cheekily replied, “I still don’t know her.” And just like that, “I don’t know her” was reborn.

While Lopez has gone on the record saying the two have met and that they do know each other, Carey settled things once and for all years back on “Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen,” saying, “apparently, I’m forgetful, because I don’t remember the fact that it was just like, ‘Hi, I’m so and so.’ … if I’ve never had a conversation with you and somebody asked me about you I would be like, ‘I don’t know him, but he seems cool.’”

When Cohen then asked if Lopez “seems cool” to Mariah Carey, she once again replied, “I don’t know her! What was I supposed to say!”

“And I was like, ‘Why are you so obsessed with me?’”

The iconic “Mean Girls” quote was given new life in Carey’s 2009 single, “Obsessed.” Taking control of an ongoing beef that began between her then-husband, Nick Cannon, and Eminem, the song is the epitome of the “clap-back,” responding to the rapper’s song “Bagpipes From Baghdad.” Eminem says in his song, “Mariah, what’s ever happened to us, why did we have to break up… Nick Cannon better back the f–k up. I’m not playing, I want her back, you punk.”

Responding in fabulous Mariah fashion, she sings in the track, “You’re delusional, boy, you’re losing your mind,” denying ever having any intimate relationship with Eminem at all. “Telling the world how much you miss me, but we never were so why you trippin’?” The song is not only a masterclass in taking headlines by storm, it’s also, simply put, catchy!

Truly taking her shade to the next level, Carey uses the music video to clear up any confusion as to who the song is about, literally dressing in drag as the “Lose Yourself” rapper. In the hilarious video, the Eminem character stalks Mariah along the New York City streets and even has a shrine-like room dedicated to the diva. In case you’re having trouble keeping score: Mariah: 2, Eminem: 0. Her best revenge had to be the song’s success, which rocketed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, earning herself yet another No. 1 hit.

Relive the hilarious moment below:

Watch out, Madonna

Long before she didn’t know Jennifer Lopez, Carey had some public words for another singer in the industry: pop icon Madonna. The “Open Your Heart” singer was not particularly kind to Carey when she burst onto the scene in the early ’90s, saying in an interview that the “Fantasy” singer is “not particularly bright” and that she’d rather “kill herself” than be her.

While promoting her hit album “Daydream,” Carey addressed Madonna’s comments with a mic-drop-worthy comeback. “I really haven’t paid attention to Madonna since I was like in seventh or eighth grade when she used to be popular,” Carey said with a smile. Go off, Mariah!

The Nicki Minaj of it all

How could we forget Mariah and Nicki Minaj’s very public (and shady) exchanges? The two first collaborated on Carey’s 2010 song, “Up Out My Face.” While they appeared to get along swimmingly at the time of its release, things seemed to take a drastic turn when both joined “American Idol” as judges in 2013. Reported behind-the-scenes tension between the two became very apparent even on camera, with various shady exchanges making it to air, including one where Minaj tells Carey to “clean her ears out” and even pulls out a Q-tip for her. Yikes.

In an interview with Barbara Walters, Mariah Carey, in signature fashion, gave Minaj the “I don’t know her” treatment. Walters asks Carey in the interview if she has heard Minaj’s latest song, “Hell Yeah,” which had references to her beef with Carey. In yet another meme-making moment, Mariah simply states, “I don’t know what she’s singing. I didn’t know she sang, I thought she rapped, or whatever.”

Check out the moment below:

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