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A superstar of the 90s
Mary J Blige in general
Member Name: ajaybee
Mary J Blige in general
Date: 19/06/01, updated on 19/06/01 (126 review reads)
Advantages: Classy music, Mixes R&B and soul
Disadvantages: Appears to have lost her 'street' edge
Mary J Blige may well be remembered in the future as a superstar alongside the likes of Whitney Houston and Diana Ross. Whilst she has not achieved the massive commercial success of these two, clearly she still is a very big superstar, and, like Houston, can make the transition between diva and R&B singer with apparent ease.
As is often the case with long-standing stars, it is only when you look back on a career that you realise how many quality records they have produced. Mary J can produce records that both warm the soul and get you on the dancefloor - sometimes at the same time, for example in the duet with WuTang rapper Method Man, 'You're All I Need To Get By', which has been one of her biggest hits to date in the UK, and early hit 'Be Happy', without a doubt one of her finest tracks to date.
Recent years however have seen Ms Blige move quite firmly into 'diva' territory: her biggest solo hit in the UK has been the ballad 'Everything' in 1997, and the George Michael duet 'As' affirmed the appeal that she has to all ages. The album 'Mary' (1999) was essentially a collection of soul ballads; in comparison to previous releases there was little of the 'street' attitude which has graced her records. This is, in my opinion anyway, a shame as she appears to be in danger of trapping herself in an MOR-only market, as duets with the likes of George Michael and Elton John (who plays piano on 'Deep Inside') show.
Previous albums are more of a balance between the two. 'Share My World' (1996) was the best example of this, a fair share of ballads and slow jams, including 'Seven Days', with the masterful George Benson, as well as club joints and sassy R&B tunes such as 'Love Is All We Need', featuring East Coast rapper Nas. 'My Life' (1993) includes 'Be Happy' the excellent 'I'm Going Down', and her best song to date, her reworking
of 'Mary Jane (All Night Long)', a fabulous track, perfect late night music. 'My Life' is best described as a streetsoul album, while more recent offerings indicate a desire to move further towards the Big Diva status.
The new Mary J album (due Summer 2001) will be interesting, to see if Mary returns to her R&B roots which, in my opinion, is where she is strongest. That said, tracks on 'Mary' prove if nothing else that this girl can sing for her supper, and deserves to be a mainstay in the R&B/soul market for many years to come.