(Mary J. Blige says performing ’My Life II’ is very emotional)
Mary J. Blige has been firm in insisting that her latest album My Life II…The Journey Continues, Act I is not in competition her acclaimed 1994 release My Life. In fact, Mary says that the album could be more accurately described as an extension of her sophomore LP. Both albums feature production from Sean “Diddy” Combs, but listeners can expect some fresh collaborations this time around with Nas, Rick Ross and even a memorable duet with Beyonce on the single “Love A Woman.” Check out some of the critics’ early reviews of Mary’s new album.
Los Angeles Times: No working soul singer depicts struggle (and its hard-won defeat) more believably than Blige does, even when armed with so-so material, as she often is here. In “Feel Inside,” she enlivens a threadbare breakup narrative with vocals full of lifelike ambivalence; later, she gives “25/8” the energy required to sell its goofy lyrical conceit. “Twenty-four seven ain’t enough,” she sings, “I got so much love for you, boy.” In “Love a Woman,” Blige duets with Beyoncé, whose bulletproof veneer contrasts with Blige’s famously unvarnished presentation. And yet the singers find a credible middle ground dispensing advice on how to satisfy a “real woman.” It’s a topic Blige could probably unpack forever.
Rolling Stone: the spoken intro to her 10th studio album. “But now we know how to navigate it.” Navigating pain has always been her subject. On this sequel to 1994’s My Life, Blige is, as usual, a voyager on storm-tossed emotional seas, swinging from bliss to anguish and back again. My Life II is packed with guest stars (Drake, Beyoncé) and top producers (Danja, Rico Love). But Blige is admirably unfashionable, staying in her sweet spot of midtempo hip-hop soul. After all these years, she can still make pain pleasurable.
Washington Post: As a sequel to “My Life,” “My Life II” may disappoint fans, for no reason other than that Blige is no longer a troubled 20-something willing to lay out her struggles for the world to hear. But viewed as just the latest Mary J. Blige project, it’s a solid album filled with small touches that will recall ’90s-era Blige. A smooth cover of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” comes off more as a laid-back homage than a direct challenge, which is what many thought of Blige’s famous take on “Sweet Thing.” And Blige still has a remarkable talent for picking rap collaborators — here she teams with Nas on “Feel Inside,” Busta Rhymes on “Next Level,” Drake on “Mr. Wrong,” and Rick Ross on the smooth “Why.” But the album’s jewel is “Love a Woman,” a song that puts Blige and Beyoncé on a single track. The ballad, with its cheesy, delightful New Jack-era R&B production, blasts the notion that MJB is all raw power and Beyonce is all chilly technique — the women are both bold and great here, with a slight advantage going to Blige.