Black History Month 20 for 20: Mary J. Blige - Queen with a Crown
Monday January 30th I was shooting the shit on Twitter as usual, and turned my attention to the love I have for Master P. My friend Courtney with a K inspired me to start this series (as you can see below). For every weekday in February, I will profile Black persons in celebration of Black History Month. #BHM20for20 Why only 20? Y’all too busy sinning on the weekend to read (I’m joking but not really). Thank you Kourtnee.
“If you look at my life, you see what I’ve seen…” – Mary J. Blige
Allow me to paint a picture if you will; it’s summertime in the year of 1993, and you’re outside on the porch playing, “that’s my car” with your cousins. You see a brand new Nissan Altima pull up; something you only saw in the commercials because they just dropped in autumn of ’92. You start to marvel at how the rear is butt/lip shaped, and you start to touch the trunk cuz a burgundy car just ain’t some shit you’re used to seeing. It’s your godmother, and she won’t get out the car cuz she loves the feel of her new whip, just as much as you love looking at it. You jump in the passenger seat, and the car smells like the hair salon, mixed with perfume, and new car. Y’all peel off, and you see all your cousins in the rearview staring like, “THAT’S MY CAR!” You just so happy cuz unlike driving with your parents, your godmother lets you put your arm out the window to catch the breeze. Now y’all at McDonald’s, and she tells you, “order what you want”, but you’re only 9 so this feels like a lot of responsibility cuz you know you can’t back to the porch empty handed; you hold it down & make sure all your cousins are taken care of, and as y’all pull off, Real Love by Mary J. Blige starts to play.
Did reading that just take you somewhere? Did you fake shed a tear or at least start smiling ear to ear? My words didn’t do that; Mary J. Blige did. She is QUEEN of R&B, the QUEEN of Hip-Hop, the QUEEN of Soul; the QUEEN, period. Mary J. Blige’s career spans 25+ years, and she has made us feel something every step of the way. For the record, Mary J. was my 2nd girlfriend after Shari Headley (Lisa McDowell from Coming to America), and right before Left Eye of TLC; just kidding but not really. I’ve loved her since the inception of her career, and still do. Here’s some perspective, Mary J. Blige has more classic albums & songs than every Hip-Hop artist to ever exist but 1 (y’all know who). I feel as if we take Mary J. for granted, and while she’s been known as the patron saint of all “hurt baes”, she is so much more.
The true mark of an artist is their ability to to adjust while never losing their soul. Mary J. has been Mary J. since I was 8/9 years old. When she came into our lives with What’s The 411? & In my opinion sang a better version of Sweet Thing than the legendary Chaka Khan, I knew she was here to stay. For those too young to understand what 411 means, it’s the number we would call to get information; we didn’t have Google, and actually had to interact with human beings. The hits on her debut were INSANE; the aforementioned Real Love, Reminisce, Love No Limit, My Love, I Don’t Want To Do Anything featuring K-Ci of Jodeci, and more; classic out of the gate.
While most artists suffer a sophomore slump, Mary J. came thru with another classic in the form of My Life, and let me tell you something about the title track (as quoted to begin this scribe); if I had edges, Mary J. snatched all of them on that song, you understand me? My reaction is similar to how Twitter reacts to anything Beyoncé does. Be Happy, I’m Goin’ Down, I Love You (the remix is still top 5 ever), You Bring Me Joy, and others; another fucking classic!
We generally only associate dirty mackin’ with male R&B singers, and men in general but Mary J. & Lil’ Kim took the crown on I Can Love You. Share My World, the album, and title track were both absolute HITS. Everything, Not Gon’ Cry were MONSTERS on the radio throughout ’97 & ’98. Share My World was Mary J.’s 3-peat; 3 albums, 3 classics. In ’99 Mary dropped Mary, and it was “eh” to say the least; most people counted her out, as they did her entire life/career. Understand Mary J. wasn’t considered a great singer, nor did she have the traditional “look” of what an R&B diva possessed but she’s a legend for not only proving her doubters wrong, but making them eventually bow down to the QUEEN.
2001’s No More Drama was Mary J.’s “comeback” and she made everyone realize her, as well as he career, were alive & well. Family Affair still rings out in 2017, and gave the culture “hateration, holleration in this dancery.” LEGENDARY! Mary J. dropped more albums Love & Life, The Breakthrough, Growing Pains, Stronger with Each Tear, My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1), A Mary Christmas, and The London Sessions. All of these albums produced numerous hits, and I haven’t even mentioned all of her guest appearances/shout outs on Hip-Hop/Rap songs ranging from Biggie to Jay-Z. Mary J. is OUR QUEEN. She’s been an actress, philanthropist, and really just a fucking ICON. I love Mary J. Blige, not only for her auntie dance moves but also for always making me feel something; rare.
Hope everyone has a great weekend, and moisturizes properly & minds their own business.