Butterfly is the sixth studio album by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, released on September 16, 1997, by Columbia Records. The album contained both hip hop and urban adult contemporary sounds, as well as some softer and more contemporary melodies. Throughout the project, Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, with whom she had written and produced most of the material from her previous albums. She also worked with many famed hip hop producers and rappers, such as Sean "Puffy" Combs, Q-Tip, Missy Elliott and the Trackmasters. With the latter acts producing most of the album, Butterfly deviated from the contemporary sound of Carey's older work, and was hailed as a defining album of the 1990s and of pop and R&B music.
With Butterfly, Carey continued the transition that began with previous album, Daydream (1995), which pushed her further into the R&B and hip hop market and away from the R&B and pop background of her previous work. During her marriage to Tommy Mottola, Carey had little control over the creative and artistic steps she took on her albums; however, after their divorce midway through the album's conception, she was able to reflect her creative maturity and evolution in the album's writing and recording. Carey wrote in the booklet of her twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009), that she considers Butterfly her magnum opus and a turning point in both her life and career.
Upon release, Butterfly garnered critical acclaim from contemporary music critics, many of whom embraced Carey's musical transition. Reviewers complimented the album for its mature sound and production and commended Carey's musical direction, calling the work a "transitional album, one that makes her a rarity of the 90s." Though released during Carey's heavily publicized conflict with Sony Music, the album became a commercial success, topping the albums chart in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands. On the Billboard 200, it debuted at number one, spending one week atop the chart. It was certified five-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and received the Million Award in Japan.
Five singles were released from the album; two worldwide commercial releases, and three limited promotional singles. "Honey", the record's lead single, topped the charts in the US and Canada and reached the top five in New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom. The album's fifth single, "My All", became a top ten hit throughout Europe and topped the charts in the US. To promote Butterfly, Carey embarked on the Butterfly World Tour, which visited Australia, Japan and Taiwan, with one show in the United States. Butterfly was nominated for three Grammy Awards at the 40th annual ceremony, though it did not win any.