MY LIFE (MJB)
Before I begin, I just want to take the time to express my sincere gratitude for the love that you all have shown me as well as my team @crewunB, whether it be my blogs, The Unbearables crew apparel, or 100 Blocks Stories. Love, infinite. We promise not to take a day off until we make the cover of Forbes Magazine.
I’ve done my research, so I can say with certainty that almost no major publication will agree with me in the statement I’m about to make: My Life by Mary J. Blige is the best album released in my 35+ year lifetime. Upon its release, most critics weren’t overly impressed. They didn’t really find anything spectacular with it; save her version of Rose Royce’s 1977 hit “I’m Going Down.” Rolling Stone only gave it 3.5 stars. But the streets told a different story. Mary picked up where she left off from the ultra-success of her debut album What’s The 411? and the remix album of the same name. The radio couldn’t get enough of her, and with the birth of Hot 97, NYC’S avant-garde hip hop and r&B station, her momentum coming into the project was prodigious. Mary went from a “round the way sister” from the projects of Yonkers to the top of the r&b and hip hop charts, and she was immediately dubbed the “Queen of hip hop and r&b soul,” a title she will own for an eternity. As if the pressure of the dreaded sophomore slump wasn’t enough, the success of her talent brought all the problems that money and fame bring: drug and alcohol addiction, “diva syndrome,” an abusive relationship with another star singer (K-Ci Hailey of Jodeci), and all the self-loathing that somehow manages to invade the minds of many brilliant success stories. She could’ve folded, but what she did was the complete opposite. She, with producer Sean Puffy Combs back on board as executive producer, produced the greatest expression of pure soul I’ve ever witnessed and heard. The hits kept coming. First “Be Happy,” then the aforementioned “I’m Going Down,” her interpolation of the Mary Jane Girls” “All Night Long,” titled ”Mary Jane,” “You Bring Me Joy/ I Love You,” and the title track, “My Life”…and those were just the singles (I’m not even gon get into the remixes). But it was the soul that the entire project emitted like a commercial truck emits harmful pollutants; she almost infected you with her indelible brand of pain blended with love. She MADE you feel her. She bore her entire soul on that album, completely unafraid to look beautifully flawed and human, just as we all are. Diddy and his team of mega producers brilliantly sampled classic r&b records of days past and infused a post New Jack Swing, new millennium sound that is still the norm to this very day. But the clincher is the test of time. My Life, twenty whole years old this year (wow), still sounds like it was freshly released when you listen to it today. A wise man once told me that its true test is enduring time and generations while still managing to sound relevant and vibrant. That it has done. My Life is the backbone of my generation of black music listeners. I still listen to it at least once or twice a month, usually in its entirety. I listen to my favorite song “Mary’s Joint” probably every other day. And the “I’m Going Down” remix with Mister Cheeks of Lost Boyz fame on BIG’s “The What” track was so completely different from the original cover version, yet it is equally as brilliant. You can actually feel her soul bleeding through the record. The same goes for the entire album. Like I said, twenty years later and it still sounds like it could’ve been released a week ago. Indelible.
Big ups to my big cousin Akira for putting me up on Mary back when, when she used to play the “Real Love” cassette single like ten times every summer morning when it came out. Big ups to all the true Mary fans all over, including my sister Janay Levy, who totally relates to me when I speak on the brilliance of My Life and Mary period. It’s safe to say that My Life will live on forever. Big ups to Mary. I love you mamma. I always will. You’ll always be my favorite, and you will always hold the crown.
Send any love/hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Follow me on the Twitter @tymonday as well as my team, @crewunB. After you read this, pick up some of our fly ass apparel.
My mom would be proud of me. I didn’t really even cuss on this blog. But she’s proud of her baby boy regardless. So is my little sister in heaven. Time to shake a leg, and get up in the wind, suga. Y’all be cool how y’all be cool. Water.
P.S. I promise I will not relent. I’m relentless.