Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mary J (Jane) Blige Has Growing Pains

First off I have to be honest and confess that I’m not a fan of Mary J. Blige’s music. Now, hold on. Before you get to sharpening your tongues to give me a good tongue lashing or pulling the whip from that shoe-box that you keep on the top shelf of the shoe closet to give me a good thrashing, at least here me out (whew). So where was I? Oh yeah, not a fan of Mary J. Blige. Ok, so why bring it up then? Here’s why.

The Queen of Hip Hop Soul as she has been dubbed (as per documentary that was released in 2004) released Growing Pains on December 18 and the album sold 629,000 copies in its first week. The album has had rave reviews and sales are expected to continue to climb. I’ve listened to the album and the songs are just not really my speed. However, track 3 – Just Fine is currently my anthem. If seeing Mary let loose (doing Michael Jackson moves and others that include ‘the robot’) as she does in the video and having all the fun in the world doesn’t win you over then just pay attention to the lyrics instead.

With lyrics that proclaim:

So I like what I see when I’m looking at me
When I’m walking past the mirror
Don't stress through the night, at a time in my life
Ain’t worried about if you feel itGot my head on straight,
I got my vibe right
I ain’t gonna let you kill it
You see I won’t change my life, my life’s just fine…..

Feels so good, when you’re doing all the things that you want to do

Get the best out of life, treat yourself to something new
Keep your head up high, In yourself, believe in you, believe in me
Having a really good time, I’m not complaining
And I’m a still wear a smile if it's raining
I got to enjoy myself regardless
I appreciate life, I’m so glad that it's fine

How can I not tout it as an anthem? The lyrics for the other songs on the album are just as strong, just as (self) reinforcing and positive as Just Fine. Blige basically takes her fans on a journey of her life – love, hurt, recovery, appreciation and so much more.

When recently asked in an interview (on VH1) where she wants to go from here, she replied that she wanted to get into acting. I know… I know… it’s the latest trend; so many singers are doing that now. What clinched it for me and took away the cliché-ism is that you could see and feel the sincerity in her statement when she followed up with the fact that she wanted to put her all into any (acting) project that she takes on and make it worthwhile.

She doesn’t just want to be another singer-turned-actor. She wants to make movies that Meryl Streep and other female veterans in the field would feel moved to call her up and say “Mary, you have done a good job on that project”. She wants to participate in meaningful and substantial movie projects. She wants to be a force to be reckoned with.

This is Blige’s ninth album. Her other albums include What’s The 411? (1992), My Life (1994), Share My World (1997), Mary (1999), No More Drama (2001), Love & Life (2003), The Breakthrough (2005) and Reflections – A Retrospective (2006).

Like Mary’s music or not, the now 37 year old singer who was born in Brooklyn has always been committed, passionate and true to her music. And girlfriend always looks fly. Her sense of style is impeccable.

Watch any of her videos from the onset of her musical career from 1992 – present and you will be guaranteed to see that if there’s one thing that’s evident is that Mary believes in her music. She believes what she sings. She loves what she does. She always looks good. She shares with her fans what her life experience is at any given time. These are the very things that caused me to sit up and take notice.

When she released No More Drama, I was like “hmmm… this lady’s got something to say and she’s brave enough to put it out there for all to scrutinize”. I tell you, I’ve been paying attention ever since. She’s had a hard life (she was molested at age 5 – a disclosure she made on Oprah’s show back in 2006, she’s had issues with drug abuse and her fair share of love’s heartbreaks). Anyone who consistently pours every ounce of her heart and soul into her music will very likely earn my respect, despite me not being a fan. I can but only wish her every success in her future endeavors. I say Blige is gon’ be just fine for some time to come.

So if after all this (my ranting and proclamations, etc) you still want to whip out the sharpened tongues and sturdy whips, let me know and I’ll (be sure to take off running at lightening speed in the opposite direction) make myself available to you for whatever punishment you deem fit. In the hopes that it will soften you up and influence you to not see punishment as fitting, I've posted one last pic.


  1. Slym Oh how I love the way your fingers dance across that keyboard.

    I have many of the same thoughts on Mary J. At first I thought her music was indeed solid enough to hit the dollars but she was being marketed for the mainstream hip hop. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying anything bad about that...hell Madonna was 90% marketing in her early days in my opinion. But this doesn't mean that either one is lacking in just means that "making it" in the music industry is HELLA-HARD and you have to market yourself early on. So almost all of the BEST singers start out with their first albums sort of getting pigeon holed to hit the masses and it isn't the artists fault.

    After a couple of solid money making albums then the artist starts to get to call the shots a bit more and you get to see more of their personality come out in their music. So I think that what we are seeing now is not only growth and development in her but also that her label is allowing more of her artistry to come out. This is usually when people become either bigger fans or they fade away from a star. I for one am thinking that the more they let the true Mary J. out the more I like her. Few work as hard as she does and few truly appreciate what they have built up as much as she has (probably because of where she came from) so even if one doesn't enjoy her music at least you should be able to look at her with respect.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. Welcome to the blogoverse, my friend. Great start. I've bookmarked you and am looking forward to reading more of The Gospel According to Slym. Cheers!

  3. I've been a fan of Mary Jane's since she first hit the scene and (I don't begrudge those who where not)....I live in the Bronx so its always nice to see someone who came from around the block make it...but not just that...her early hits where hip hop oriented and rightfully so because lets face the time that's the only way someone like her would have been herd by a major audience...but now her music actually says something...not only is she more biographical she's singing about a hard life lived...something a lot of people in this world can relate to...more recently of course she has been singing about seeing a light at the end of the inspiration if you will to people who are still searching for it...hopefully as time go's by more people will listen to her, not only will they feel her life's journey but also use it as a guide to watch out for some of those missteps and hopefully live life to the brightest and fullest.

  4. Mary J Is FIERCE! Hands down no questions asked! Shes lived everything she sings about and for as strong and bold as she is there is something about MJ that makes everyone so protective of her. Her fans are some of the most loyal Ive ever seen but yeah Ive been a fan since Real Love! PERFECTION & Inspiration! Without MJB would we have an Alicia Keys?