Talk about a life full of accomplishments – there are so many things that come to mind when I think of Mary J. Blige. Rapper, actress, soul-singer, and multi-platinum artist, 41 year old Blige is the only artist with Grammy wins in the pop, rap, gospel, and R&B categories collectively.
Seventeen years since the production of the album My Life (one of the greatest records ever recorded according to Rolling Stone), Blige has outdone herself once more with this heartfelt and emotional, talent-packed, tenth studio album,“My Life II – the Journey Continues (Act I). Featuring artists Sean Combs, Nas, Brook Lynn, Busta Rhymes, Beyoncé, Drake, and Rick Ross, this album was destined to succeed even in the pre-production process.
The intro song plays a phone call from Blige to Sean Combs, who reassures her that it is time for a sequel by saying, “Life is a marathon. It has many parts to it.” Responding with, “It’s not a competitor. It’s a sequel. In an extension of how far we’ve come,” Blige makes it obvious to her fans that her emotions have not slowed but rather have matured and evolved into something even more powerful.
Some of my favorite tracks from this record are Empty Prayers, where Blige displays her soulful, emotion-filled voice, and the empowering track Love a Woman featuring Beyoncé, with its catchy chorus, “So you think you know how to love a woman / but I think there’s still some things you need to know.”
The album’s last song, Living Proof, produced by The Underdogs (Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas), was used as the theme song for the Academy Award nominated film, The Help.
The entire album is soulful, catchy, moving, lyric and beat driven, and packed full of a variety of talented artists. This is one of Blige’s best yet, and I would not be surprised if she trumps herself again in the future.