[artist id="854"]Mary J. Blige[/artist] was a troubled 23-year-old when she dropped her classic My Life album. On the surface, she was "ghetto fabulous" — draped in high-priced, '90s-era DKNY duds and oversize Versace glasses — but beneath the veneer, the Queen of hip-hop soul was broken, abusing drugs and swept up in one bad romance after another.
Being too young and too raw to tell anything but the truth, the girl from the Schlobohm housing projects in Yonkers, New York, poured all that turmoil into her sophomore album and then watched as tracks like "Be Happy" and "I'm Going Down" slow-strutted up the charts to the tune of more than 3 million albums sold. Now, 16 years (and several Grammys and platinum plaques) later, MJB plans to revisit her enduring second disc with the release of My Life II ... The Journey Continues, due in October.
"It's called The Journey Continues because on the first My Life album, we all just were depressed and wanted to die. This one, we want to live, and we understand with living, life still comes with challenges and triumphs and good times and bad times," Blige told MTV News at the Essence Music Festival earlier this month, where she was not only honored for her charitable work at the McDonald's 365Black Awards but also closed out the New Orleans fest.
Among the beatmakers Blige has tapped to work on the sequel is Swizz Beatz, and she teased what fans can expect to hear. "There's ballads, there's midtempos, uptempos. There's love songs, there's pain songs. There's triumph songs, there's workout songs. There's all kinda stuff!" she laughed. "This one is definitely what people are looking for from me, and I'm digging and I'm reaching in deep to give them what they need."
Blige is well aware of the My Life legacy, how fans connected to her slow-drip brand of blues. The singer even complained in '08 that many of her followers didn't want her to be happy, preferring the dark tunes she cooked up while depressed to her newer love songs. So, Mary's aiming to strike a balance this fall.
"I just wanna express again, not just my own, but just people's lives around me and just celebrate it, but celebrate it in a way — not that we don't have, 'OK, sister, let me get you through this' [songs or], 'OK, here's what I'm dealing with,' " she explained. "And that's basically what that record is about. But I want to get it right, so my fans can be happy."
What do you expect to hear on Mary J. Blige's new album? Share your thoughts below!