It was in 1992 that Mary J. Blige hit us with her debut album "What's The 411? ". After one listen the answer was immediately identified within that album - she's the 411 - her music is what's up - her soulful female r&b vocals combined with hip hop's beats and notions created her own distinctive sound and thesis. Thus, crowning her the Queen Of Hip Hop Soul. Ever since we've come to expect great things from MJB and once again she prevails to deliver with her newest album "The Breakthrough"

I was instantly intrigued when I heard Mary's single "Be Without You". Ironically, the heavy beat and soft piano along with Mary's signature gritty yet polished voice somehow harmonically come together. I felt the same enthusiasm after hearing "Good Woman Down", wherein the music is just as powerful as the message. Mary is addressing women who are in abusive relationships by sharing her own experiences, including seeing her father beat her mother. However, she provides uplifting words of wisdom on why you "can't hold a good woman down" in her catchy chorus. I also want to brag about "Ain't Really Love", which provides that classic dramatic sound from the Mary we've all come to know and love. The tempo is slow and the music is well-orchestrated, as Mary coos away about "how can a man be so cold to a woman that loves him most". On the flip-side, "No One Will Do" whole-heartedly displays an in-love and happily situated Mary. I especially like the upbeat change toward the end of the song.

As I eagerly scanned the entire album, I could easily go on about each track; it's numerous talented producers (such as Andre Harris and Vidal Davis, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Will.i.am, Rodney Jerkins, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Brian Michael Cox, and 9th Wonder, just to name a few); and featured guests (from Brook and Dave Young to Jay-Z and Raphael Saadiq, even U2). But since space is limited (and I've taken up a lot already), I provided my favorites and hope it's informative. I'll also leave you with this You can look forward to a fine-tuned and full-effort album with 16 songs! Trust that it's solid from beginning to end and will remain on the charts for a long time running. Expect to hear a lot of what Mary is renowned for: her soulful voice (reminiscent of Aretha), honest story-telling lyrics, r&b slow cuts seasoned with old-school flava, contemporary hip hop beats, even some neo and rock sounds. And the name of her album is undoubtedly the theme throughout. This is a liberated, endured, strong and happy Mary. So even if a song expresses the struggles she's encountered, make no mistake that it will refreshingly lead up to her victory or breakthrough.


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