Monday, April 04, 2011

Mary J. Blige: My Life II, The Journey Continues

It's been 17 years following the release of American R&B singer Mary J. Blige's high-regarded sophomore album My Life--one of the best and most influences R&B albums of the last 20 years--and in September, Blige is planning to release its sequel My Life II: The Journey Continues. This is great news! I hope she can live up to the magnificence that was that album and if Lauryn hill isn't going to release a follow-up to her debut, at least we'll have this.

Released in 1994, My Life became one of Blige's biggest career landmarks, although it wasn't necessarily a critical-hit on it's initial release--it became recognized as her magnum opus over time. It landed her fourth and fifth top 40 hits with the emotional love-strung ballad "I'm Goin' Down" and the more laid-back groove of "Be Happy," and was nominated for Best R&B Album at the Grammys. It's like a Miseducation of Lauryn Hill before Lauryn Hill came a long and released it, Miseducation is really the only female hip-hop/R&B fusing album that I would put over this. Funnily enough, Hill also appears on the album, offering the opening and closing verse on the remix of "Be with You," Blige would return the favor offering a verse on "I Used to Love Him" from Miseducation.

I placed My Life at #32 on my countdown of the 100 best albums of the '90s, here's what I said: "Often regarded as one of the most influencial hip-hop/soul albums of the decade (although I've always thought Lauryn Hill's debut was better) this album showcased Blige at her '90s best; raw vocal stylings and lyrical affirmations over relentless hip-hop beats, sampling a long list of R&B legends including Curtis Mayfield, Roy Ayers, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, Barry White and Rick James tied together with a lot of soul."

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