Rapper, actress and radio personality Da Brat has more than just the cover of Variety‘s Pride Issue to celebrate this week: the first female hip-hop artist to go platinum also just dropped new music. The timely “Quarantine With U” arrived with no set-up or fanfare, in a move that might make you think of Beyoncé. “I wish,” jokes Brat.
But divas have a presence in the “Dish Nation” host’s life as Brat recently found herself at the top of the iTunes overall chart thanks to her longtime galpal and frequent collaborator Mariah Carey.
“Me and Mariah are both Aries and we’re both eternally twelve, so we hit it off from the get go,” Brat says of their initial bond. Last month, Carey’s 12-year-old album, “E=MC2,” hit No. 1 after her fans orchestrated a Twitter hashtag campaign. Brat cowrote the song “O.O.C.” from the 2008 release, in addition to appearing on the bonus track “4real4real.”
Their relationship dates back to the 1996 remix of Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” which coincidentally was the same year Brat made her feature film debut with Shaquille O’Neal in “Kazaam.” “That was one of the most monumental moments in my life because I was a fan,” Brat says of Carey. Her first impression? A surprisingly down-to-earth person. “You could tell she had been sheltered and cut off from being able to be herself.”
At the time, both Brat and Jermaine Dupri had been invited to the recording studio Carey designed herself inside “Sing Sing,” which was the singer’s nickname for the Bedford mansion she shared with then-husband Tommy Mottola, the head of Sony Music, to which she was signed. The residence was outfitted with top-of-the-line recording gear.
“She had to whisper to talk to me because there were cameras everywhere and microphones in the walls,” recalls Brat. And there were two dozen shiny cars parked in the garage, including a bubblegum-pink Cadillac, which caught Brat’s eye and inspired her to take a little joy ride. “She said they were all hers, so we hopped in one and I drove us to Burger King, which was like a mile up the street.”
According to Dupri, “all hell broke loose” following their impromptu fast-food run — you’d think they had just made a prison break. “Honey, when I tell you Tommy Mottola and the whole security team pulled out their guns — they were looking for us and they were pissed off,” says Brat, who jokingly described the armed guards as “the mafia.” “I didn’t know she was like a caged bird; I’m just living my life. I was like, ‘What’s wrong with y’all? We just went to Burger King to get some fries.’ “
Brat, who also appeared alongside Carey in 2001’s “Glitter,” believes that the experience had lasting effects on Carey. “That’s why she is so serious about making sure she makes all her decisions, writing all of her songs and being a part of everything that happens in her career,” she says of Carey. “Because of all the bulls–t she went through, she calls the shots now. She was going to make sure of that. She earned those stripes, honey.”