"Breakdown" is a song co-written by American singer Mariah Carey and Stevie J. for Carey's seventh album, Butterfly (1997). Co-produced by Carey, Stevie and Puff Daddy, it features raps by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (with an emphasis on rapped parts from Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone).
Slant Magazine called "Breakdown" "the song of Carey's career... where the lyrical strokes are as broad and obvious as they are naked... This is the height of her elegance and maybe hip-hop-soul's, too." In their review Billboard magazine called it a "wickedly infectious ditty", and Allmusic said that it "ranks among her best. The LA Weekly mentioned that "Breakdown" "took signature elements of new-millennium R&B — breathy vocals, rap star cameo, lyrics about heartbreak — and did what almost no one else who's used the formula has been able to do: trip onto that rarefied plane where music, words and voice all converge into pure emotion", going on to call it a "sublime recording" and "one of the best R&B performances of the decade."
Since its release, "Breakdown" has become a favorite among several fans of Carey and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and Carey commented in a 2006 interview with MTV Overdrive that "Breakdown", along with other songs from Butterfly, was one of her favorite of her songs. She mentioned in the liner notes of her hits compilation #1's (1998) that she intended the track to be included on a future "greatest hits" release. She suffered a physical and emotional breakdown in 2001, and consequently the song was not included on her compilation album, Greatest Hits, released later that year. It featured on her remix collection The Remixes (2003).
The single's video (released in March 1998) was directed by Carey with the assistance of Diane Martel. It sees her take on the role of various "casino girl" roles, including the cabaret girl, showgirl, cowgirl and lucky charm, and members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony make appearances in the video. A different edit of the song, titled "The Mo' Thugs" remix, features longer raps from Krayzie & Wish Bone and an intro and verse from Layzie Bone, who was absent from the original mix. This version can be found on Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's compilation The Collection Volume One.
|Chart (1998)||Peak |
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||38|
|U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40||15|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay||53|
|U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay||13|
|U.S. Billboard Rhythmic Top 40||18|