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I am a huge fan of R&B and Mary J Blige has been one of my favourite Female R&B artists over the last 15 years or so. Her voice is amongst the best female voices around and she's won so many awards for her music and is highly regarded by others in the Music Industry. Her music has consistently featured inspiring songs about beating your troubles and moving on from things. She has released a total of ten studio albums to date and the review I am writing today is of her tenth album which was released in 2011 and received some very positive reviews from music critics.
**My Life II... The Journey Continues. Act 1**
The album was released on 21st November 2011 and features some stellar production from the likes of The Underdogs, Tank, Stargate, Calvin Harris, Darkchild and also The Underdogs. The album also features stellar collaborations from Busta Rhymes, Beyonce, Rick Ross, Nas & Drake and also newcomer Brook Lynn. The singles from the album were 25/8", "Mr. Wrong", "Why" & "Don't Mind". The album debuted well on the US Billboard Chart with a position of 5 with first-week sales of 156,000 copies.
This is a short introduction, It features a phone call between Mary J & Sean Combs otherwise known as P Diddy. It's a discussion about the album and how she felt about recording it. It sets the album up well.
2.) Feel Inside
This track features the same sound musically from the intro until the beats come in and then the song develops well. This is an uptempo Hip Hop track ft Nas. It's flow is excellent and Nas' rap vocals work well alongside Mary J's emotive Vocals. The track is about being honest in a relationship and telling someone what you really feel. The music is catchy and the beats work well.
3.) Midnight Drive
This features Mary J's rap vocals on an upbeat hip hop track which features rap vocals from Brook Lynn. It's another track with a good flow and Mary's vocals are on form with an expressive tone. The music is catchy but doesn't sound as good as the previous track. Brook Lynn does a decent job with the vocals and the collaboration works fairly well.
4.) Next Level
This track features Busta Rhymes and is a catchy mid tempo track with some decent beats and hooks and a nice flow. Busta Rhymes though always sounds like he wants to "smash your face in" whatever he's rapping about. It's all in the vocal delivery really. Mary J's vocals flow well along with the catchy beats and hooks and the song has a decent vibe.
5.) Ain't Nobody
This is a catchy cover version of the Chaka Khan original. Mary J's vocals flow well and the electro beats and hooks work well on this dance track which is catchy and takes the best features of the original into a new version. This version isn't too different from the original but does enough to justify covering it. It's a decent reworking which showcases Mary J Blige's voice. Good stuff.
This is a soulful ballad with some catchy beats and hooks. The track was produced with Eric Hudson and was the first single released from the album. It's a nice mid tempo ballad which really showcases the vocal ability of Mary J Blige, certainly in terms of flow. The track is about when you are so much in love with someone that you want there to be more hours in the day and more days in a week so you can love them even more. A very strong track which progresses well.
7.) Don't Mind
This is a Soulful track with some catchy beats, Mary J's vocals are relaxed and combine well with the relaxed music. The track is about saying to someone that you love them and wanting it to be known how much you feel for them. Mary J's vocals are some of the best on the album and really get across the emotion and feelings of the song.
8.) No Condition
This is an excellent ballad which features some nice strings and some mellow beats, Mary J's vocals come in with the gentle keys. Her expressive vocals shine well on this track about telling someone you don't love them anymore after what they've done. The backing vocals combine well with Mary J's lead vocals. She shows herself to be adept at the songs that confront exes for their cheating or general behaviour. This is a very good track.
9.) Mr Wrong
This is a relaxed ballad featuring Drake, his relaxed flow is instantly recognisable and the beats and hooks work well as a nice backing for the vocals, Mary J's vocals soon come in with an emotive feel. The track is about always falling for the wrong man who just ends up hurting you in the long run and wanting to find someone right. This was the second single from the album. Mary J's vocals here really showcase her power and grace in equal measure. One of the best tracks on the album for sure and a good appearance from Drake.
This track features Rick Ross and works extremely well, It's a surprise ballad which has some catchy hooks and punchy beats with Mary J's flowing voice shining. The track is about wondering why you can't fix a relationship after trying hard to work things out. Rick Ross' part works well and adds something to the track. This is a very decent collaboration between Mary J Blige and Rick Ross. The sound is unexpected from a collaboration involving Rick Ross.
11.) Love A Woman
This is a fantastic duet with Beyonce, talk about great vocal talent there!. two of the best females in the game. This track doesn't disappoint as both shine vocally. The track is about confronting a man about how you should love a woman and how they'll need to change to stay in the relationship. Beyonce is great as usual and this track is undoubtedly one of the best tracks on the album and a real worthwhile collaboration between two of the best female R&B singers around today.
12.) Empty Prayers
This is a beautiful ballad which is a contender for best on the album, Mary J's vocals are superb here on this heartfelt song about hoping for your partner to prove their love for you and work things out. The vocals are superbly emotive and you just know that she's singing through experience. The backing vocals combine superbly well with Mary J's during the chorus. The track builds wonderfully and is amongst her best of her career to date. some praise indeed.
13.) Need someone
This is a lovely acoustic ballad which interestingly reminds me a little of Sarah McLachlan's Angel which is another song I love. I make the connection due to the structure and simplicity of the song. Mary J's vocals are superb and so emotive. This is again up there with her best work and shows the pain and beauty in her voice. This is a beautiful song which is wonderfully sung and the strings and gentle percussion are two pieces that combine so well with the vocals to create a beautiful track.
14.) The Living Proof
Just like the best tracks on here this one is talking from experience and this track really ends the album superbly well. It opens with some lovely piano which is then joined by Mary J's vocals which talk about beating struggles that meet you in your life and moving on with your life. This is a truly inspiring song that teaches you that how ever bad it may seem you can move on and live your life again after a relationship ends or struggles hit you. Mary J's vocals show she's a real talent and the overall package of the song is up there with her best ever tracks. Absolutely Superb.
This is an excellent album from one fine artist, It features stellar production and some really great tracks which are up there with anything she's done in the past. This is her tenth album and on this evidence she has many more to come. I can't wait for her new album to see if she reproduces the magic. Not only does she have the voice but her songs also have a fantastic emotive feel to them and the up tempo tracks are catchy and are club bangers. If you are a fan of her music then please check out this album.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Feel Inside (ft. Nas)
3 Midnight Drive (ft. Brook Lynn)
4 Next Level (ft. Busta Rhymes)
5 Ain't Nobody
7 Don't Mind
8 No Condition
9 Mr. Wrong (ft. Drake)
10 Why (ft. Rick Ross)
11 Love A Woman (ft. BeyoncÃ©)
12 Empty Prayers
13 Need Someone
14 The Living Proof
15 You Want This
16 This Love Is For You
17 One Life
18 Someone To Love Me (Naked) (ft. Diddy & Lil Wayne)