To those who are unaware, please allow me to introduce to you all the undisputed Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.
"My journey continues, because I've, you know, conquered a lot. And I know how to conquer the rest." – Mary J. Blige
Mary Jane Blige, a woman who originally hails from New York City but was raised In rural Georgia, originally started her music career as back-up singer. At the time, she was the first female signing at Uptown Records (founded by Puff Daddy). In a career that now spans over 3 decades and counting, Blige has endeared herself to her fans do in no small part to her upfront and unapologetic of a woman's point of view in a society expects women to be demure, afraid and subservient to men; Additionally, your feelings also had to be defined in terms that only made men comfortable, and Blige has had no problem at all shooting down stereotypes and misogyny as often as possible.
Mary J. Blige as Florence from the film Mudbound, released last year and directed by Dee Rees. Image courtesy of Elevated Films and Joule Films.
Blige possesses a large, powerful and soulfully strong singing voice, but that is only part of her talent. She also writes some of her own material, which lyrically is typically filled with such street-level honesty and directness many acts pale in comparison. Topics range from women's empowerment to domestic violence, and Blige was mixing R&B and Hip-Hop styles utilizing a strong and heavy beat as good as anyone could hope to hear. She was also one of the first R&B artists to work with a variety of Hip-Hop acts in a type of Rap/Sung collaborations, fusing recordings that are so common today it almost seems as if we always had them.
She also has a fairly good acting resume, and recently stunned critics and audiences alike with her truly impressive character portrayal in the film Mudbone, from last year. She was nominated for two Golden Globes for her work on the film: one for the soundtrack as well as what currently stands as her career-defining moment as an actress. Mudborn also garnered Blige an Academy Award nomination for her role, exposing her name to an audience of people who probably have no idea of her expansive and influential work as a musician. We will know in a few short weeks if she takes home the trophy.
Our tracks this week: Title, Year, Album Source, Guest Appearance/Duet if applicable
1. Good Woman Down, 2005, The Breakthrough
2. Never Been, 2002, Brown Sugar soundtrack
3. Work That, 2007, Growing Pains
4. Pick Me Up, 2014, The London Sessions
5. Next Level, 2011, My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1), Mary J. Blige Feat. Busta Rhymes
6. Mary Jane (All Night Long), 1994, My Life
7. I Can See In Color, 2009, Precious: Based On The Novel "Push" By Sapphire soundtrack
8. Not Gon' Cry, 1995, Waiting to Exhale soundtrack
9. The One, 2009, Stronger With Each Tear, Mary J. Blige Feat. Drake
10. Strength of a Woman, 2017, Strength of a Woman
11. Reminisce, 1992, What's The 411?
12. I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By (Puff Daddy Mix), 1995, 12" Remix/CD Single, first album release on Def Jam Music Group Inc.: 10th Year Anniversary, Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige
13. Family Affair, 2002, No More Drama
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
Ace of Spades PDX
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