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The Apollo Inducts Mary J Blige Into Its Walk Of Fame

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Mary J. Blige recently released her 15th studio album, Good Morning Gorgeous, and the album clearly shows why she still reigns supreme as the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. Since 1992, the R&B veteran’s catalog has been a soundtrack for the heartbroken who are looking for light during their darkest days. She has given us countless testimonies of her trials and tribulations but with this milestone project she is focusing on a particular triumph: learning to love herself.

“It’s, it’s like how I finally got a chance to say I’m amazing I never said that in my life about myself, ever,” she said on the “GMG Interlude.” I never thought it. But just recently in my life, I was like I’m amazing ’cause God said I’m amazing, I’m amazing.”

Blige approached this album with a swagger we’ve never seen from her before. She’s no longer the broken soul begging to be loved. On this album, we are hearing from an unapologetic Mary who knows she’s the baddest bitch in the room. On the DJ Khaled-assisted ‘Amazing,” she’s quite braggadocious and celebrating her rise from the pits of depression and despair.

“My crib is so big I tеll the guests to use a map/ He wanna play house, I ask him, ‘Where’s the fun in that?’/Seein’ all these blessings, man, I think I pray too much/Lately, I been feeling like I turn up way too much,” she sang.

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On the title track, she is commemorating the time in her life that she was able to embrace every part of who she is. She reminisces about her days of self-hatred and vows to be her own source of love, strength and validation (I’m so tired of feeling empty/Dry my eyes, it’s time to fight/It seems like I’m always against me/Seems like this is never ending/And I refuse to let it end me).

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Blige never embraced her regality even though she has been the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul for 30 years. With “On Top” featuring Fivio Foreign, she is realizing that she is royalty on and off the stage.  She sings “Remember nights alone/Couldn’t see right from wrong/Now I’m back and I’m better/Big step in Margiellas/Buss down sky dweller/My time a little better/Who run it?”

When it comes to love, toxicity is no longer the love language she’s accepting. On “Love Without Heartbreak,” “Failing in Love” and  “Enough,” she’s tired of the labor of love leaving her drained, disappointed and unfulfilled. On one of the standout tracks, “Rent Money” featuring Dave East, she’s calling for an even exchange after pouring her love into someone who won’t return the favor. (I spent everything on ya/Spent my energy on ya/Put that loyalty on ya/I ain’t got nothing left/I’m in over my head). The song was inspired by a judge ruling that her ex-husband Kendu Issacs be awarded $135,000 a month in alimony before it was lowered to $30,000 a month in January 2022.

“When I first got the divorce, I had to give up all this alimony and I didn’t have any more money to give because he had spent it,” she told Angie Martinez at iHeartRadio’s Album Release Party. “I had to go on tour and make all the money back to pay the alimony and I didn’t have no money to pay my rent. It was also a metaphor. I didn’t have my soul. I was just drained of everything so it was time for somebody to pay. I was very angry then when I made that song.”

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For the production, she called on producers like London on da Track, Bongo, D’Mile, Cool N’ Dre and more who supplied the beats that aligned with her hip-hop soul formula. With the jazzy feel of “Rent Money,” the soulful  “Come See About Me,” the New York drill-inspired “On Top” and the dancehall horns and bass of “Amazing,” she shows she could never stray away from her signature sound that keeps her in a class of her own. Her songwriting remains sincere, conversational and as always inspiring us to press-on and love ourselves in the process. This time around, on songs like “Love Will Never,” her lyrics are drenched in an assertiveness and determination that motivate her to walk away from a tumultuous love, something the My Life Mary hadn’t mastered yet.

Through her music, Mary J. Blige has been the voice of the brokenhearted and resilient. With Good Morning Gorgeous, she is more empowered and is no longer embattled with herself. She’s stepping away from hopelessness and starting a new chapter filled with self-respect. She’s still frustrated with the turbulence of her love life but thanks to her newfound confidence, she is refusing to allow anything less than great to be in her presence because she now knows her worth.

 

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