On June 19, we can hear firsthand how Mary J. Blige has put the pain of past relationships behind her; that’s the day she’s scheduled to drop her fifth studio album, tentatively titled Mary Jane – No More Drama.
A song titled “No More Drama” was one of the first Blige recorded for the LP and it set the tone for her other tracks, said Blige’s manager, Kirk Burrowes.
“[The album] is Mary’s ode to funky, spiritual love and devotion,” Burrowes said. “It’s mostly up-tempo [tracks] — hardly any ballads, not a lot of guest appearances. It’s a lot of just Mary. How she feels about the world, mankind and love.”
Mary Jane is the second in a planned trilogy by the singer, Burrowes said, similar to Jay-Z’s In My Lifetime releases. Her last album, which was also her biggest seller, was titled Mary, and her follow-up to Mary Jane may be called Mary Jane Blige. If Burrowes has his way, the next installment won’t arrive anytime soon.
“I hope that [Mary Jane] is so wildly successful, we won’t have to do another one for the next 10 years,” Blige’s manager joked. “But if they love this one and they buy it all up, then hopefully we could come back with another project by next summer. It all depends on how Mary feels and what’s going on in her life and what she’s ready to share.”
Recording has reached its final stages, with Blige now deciding whether to use tracks produced by Dr. Dre or save them for the next LP. Though the singer also worked with the Neptunes for the album, Burrowes said, “Things didn’t work out, but those boys are dope. We’ll catch them next time.”
Other producers confirmed for the LP are Rockwilder and the Flyte Tyme team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “No More Drama” is one of the songs being considered as the first single, as is the Rockwilder-produced “Rock Steady.” When finalized, the single is expected to hit radio in a few weeks.
The singer, who taped a role for the cable series “Strong Medicine” earlier this year (see “Mary J. Blige Takes ‘Strong Medicine’” ), is also fielding movie scripts. The release of “Prison Song,” a film starring Blige and rapper Q-Tip (see “Mary J. Blige Talks ‘Prison Song’” ), has been put on hold indefinitely.