Mariah Carey is, as we best know her today, a fabulously over-the-top, Frito pie loving Elusive Chanteuse equipped with her own lighting crew and, assuming my grassroots campaign for the category of Shade Throw to be added in time for the Rio Olympic Summer Games, is well on her way to becoming America’s leading medalist by 2016.

Of course, with an abundance of deathly digs (“I don’t know her“), side-eye GIFs and diva-sized theatrics, Mimi — or, given her impact on the Internet these days, Meme-mi? — doesn’t always get the credit she deserves as a artist who genuinely gets the industry, and the art of letting go making music: She is, in fact, an unbelievably brilliant singer-songwriter.

Forget the Photoshop non-scandals and those bum notes during live performances as of late. Those songs on the #1 To Infinity compilation? She wrote and produced almost all of them. No writing camps. Herself. It’s an underappreciated fact that I will continue to shout from The Roof. (Eh heh.)

Luckily for us, journalist/photographer Craig Seymour graciously uploaded an interview in full with Mariah, recorded back in 1999 during the Rainbow era. It was a time when “Heartbreaker” was riding high sitting on top of the Billboard Hot 100, scandalizing some of her more conservative, ballad-loving base with an unabashed love of rappers and hip-hop beats.

Rarely does a fan of any artist get an intimate glimpse into the mind of their fave as this interview so thoroughly does.

It’s a Lambily goldmine for real, for real: She opens up about the fact that songs didn’t make her older records for being #SomethingMoreUrban, the public perception of her race and her love of House music (LGBT warrior). And that’s, like, just the first five minutes.

The two talk in depth about personal songs like “Petals,” getting ready to shoot her movie (then called All That Glitters), her single sales (Mariah knows exact figures), her writing style and chord structures (so many acapella moments to illustrate her point!) the critics (“I agree with a lot of the critics, I was showy and over-singing…the second album, I felt like I had to prove something”) and the intricacies of her vocal range.

She’s so, so incredibly self-aware — and so critical! — of every facet of her career, from “Vision Of Love” (“The demo was better than the record”) to the songs on her then-upcoming record (“‘Crybaby’…I was gonna call it ‘Crybaby/Insomniac’, and I should have.”) She even knows the difference between the type of smoke used on stage, and how it affects her voice.

And the final moments are perhaps the most revealing of all, as she discusses the drive to keep making music for herself: “I do it probably because I feel like I have to keep going. Probably because I’m insecure, and I have to maintain how far I’ve come. I didn’t get to enjoy a lot of the first half of it.” She appreciates and enjoys ya now, though!

Mariah fan or not, this makes for a fascinating listen for anyone who loves hearing the story behind the music. It’s not always butterflies and rainbows, dahhling.

Thanks to MNEK for the find!