Santana, Jay-Z, Ja Rule and even Cassidy are all hailing the queen.
As Mary J. Blige continues to work on her new LP, she's keeping a high profile with guest appearances and a freestyle. She's on the remix of Cassidy's "I'm a Hustla" that came out last week, and a previously unreleased Mary and Ja Rule duet called "Streets Done Raised Me" has surfaced on radio and mixtapes.
"These streets done raised me, baby/ Oh, this world done changed me," she sings on the hook, while Ja laments his turmoil. Later Mary gets her own verse, singing, "I used to say a prayer for you daily/ But praying for you just ain't helping you lately/ Baby, baby, I shed my tears/ But I'm not gonna cry no more, you crazy?"
Mary has a song of her own that's just started getting spins as well. MJB took over the beat for the Game's "Hate It or Love It" and laced it with her own lyrics, recollecting her life and career. "Go 'head and envy me, I'm the soul hip-hop queen/ And I ain't going nowhere, but you already know me," she sings.
The only place it seems like Mary is going to is the studio. Her label hasn't released the title or due date for her next LP, but it's expected in stores this year. Blige just laid tracks with two high-profile production teams, Cool & Dre ("So Much More," "Hate It or Love It") and Dre & Vidal ("Caught Up," "Oh").
"We produced one and co-wrote another one with her," Cool said of the collaboration. "People always ask us who we want to work with, and I always say Mary. We finally got that chance and it was great. We was like, 'The queen wants to mess with Cool & Dre? Let's do it ASAP.' "
The pair flew out to Los Angeles and cut records with Mary in a studio that Marvin Gaye owned.
"You can feel Marvin in there, just chilling," Cool said. "It's like a regular studio, but it has a vibe. The vocal booth has all his old keyboards and amps. You can see all the sh-- he worked on. She was knocking out songs left and right. We did this record called 'People.' Her and Sean Garrett wrote the record. It's crazy. It's the 411 formula we gave her. It's about relationships with people. It's basically 'Don't be mad if the people let you down. Don't be mad if they don't come through, because they're just people at the end of the day.' It's got the crazy bridge. At the end, we had to tell her, 'Mary, you've got to throw in that la-di-da-di-da.' And that made that sh-- a classic."
Dre & Vidal also have what they think has the potential to not only be a timeless Mary joint, but the first single from her album. Their record is another song where Mary teams up with Jay-Z.
"It's an up-tempo club record with energy," Andre Harris said. "It's called 'Can't Hide From Love.' It's the jump-off record. Mary's coming back, letting the person know 'You can't hide from love. I'm chasing you. Don't hide from it.' It's hot, it's a burner."
Dre & Vidal say that while they got Mary to party, she also brought the drama, especially on one of the two ballads they crafted with her.
"She's giving you some pain, she's giving you a lot of conviction on the ballads," Vidal Davis explained. "One song she couldn't take it. The whole song, the whole session, she just cried the whole time. It was incredible how it came out. Mary still has the work ethic of a new artist. I've seen Mary cut two songs in one day. At this point in the game, normally artists who've been out for a while don't have that drive."
Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Rodney Jerkins, the Neptunes, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Raphael Saadiq are also said to have contributed to the 27 songs she's recorded. Mary is also on Will Smith's new album, Lost and Found, via "Tell Me Why," and she's going to pop up on Jaime Foxx's LP on a duet called "Love Changes" (see "Jamie Foxx Nabs 50 Cent, Kanye For Album Of 'Love Music'"). That song was originally performed by Kashif. Blige will also be a featured guest on Santana's next LP. She sings a song that was written by Rob Thomas and features Big Boi rapping.