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‘My Life’: Mary J. Blige Beds In As The Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul

With the 1994 album, Blige was on her sophomore release and the follow-up to her 1992 breakthrough album ‘What’s The 411?’

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Mary J. Blige artwork: UMG
Mary J. Blige artwork: UMG

Mary J. Blige had every reason for celebrating on December 17, 1994, as she reached the landmark of her second R&B No.1 album with My Life.

The career of the soul queen took another adventurous turn in 2014 with the release of The London Sessions. In 2017, she returned to the US R&B Top 3 with her 13th studio set, Strength Of A Woman. But back in 1994, Blige was on her sophomore release and the follow-up to the record with which she’d burst onto the scene in 1992, What’s The 411?

That LP, which featured such trademark hits as “Reminisce,” “Real Love,” and “You Remind Me,” went double platinum in the US, spent seven weeks at No.1 on the R&B listing, and 64 on the chart altogether. Incredibly, My Life, released on November 29, would match or beat all of those impressive statistics.

Mary J. Blige - Be Happy

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Blige’s second album, executive produced by Sean “Puffy” Combs, was introduced by the first single hit “Be Happy,” a No.6 R&B success that also reached No.30 on the Billboard Hot 100. The full set followed at the end of November and went straight to No.1 on the soul chart. Mary wouldn’t achieve that feat on the pop album list for another two and a half years, when she released her third album Share My World.

Listen to the best of Mary J. Blige on Apple Music and Spotify.

What’s The 411? went platinum in three months and double platinum in seven, but it was eight years before it achieved triple platinum status, in 2000. My Life was platinum in two months, double platinum in four, and triple in just over a year.

The album outstripped its predecessor with eight weeks at the top of the R&B survey and an epic 85 on the chart altogether. Hit singles such as “I’m Goin’ Down,” “Mary Jane (All Night Long),” and others were lifted from it during 1995, as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s reign continued. In 2021, the album became the subject of a new documentaryMary J. Blige’s My Life, executive-produced by the star herself. Its release prompted Variety to describe the album as signalling the further emergence of “the heart-on-a-sleeve singer-songwriter unafraid to mine her own considerable trauma through music.”

Buy or stream My Life.

 

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