In the music biz, preventing a new album's tracks from being leaked is virtually impossible. Those DAT tapes grow legs and walk right into the hands of DJs, who play them at shows and put them on mix tapes — or so it seems.
The new Mary J. Blige cuts you've been hearing or probably will hear soon might not make it onto the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul's fifth studio album, according to a source at her label, MCA. Featuring the dream-team supporting cast of Jay-Z on guest vocals and Lenny Kravitz on guitar, "Rock Steady" was a virtual lock to be on Blige's No More Drama until it caused a little drama of its own by hitting the streets early.
Mary recently said Kravitz will make it onto the album one way or another, since she got the rocker to bring his guitar riffs to another track, called "P.M.S."
"It's not vulgar, either," she said. "It's just about the basics. Any woman can understand it. If any man loves his woman, he'll understand it too."
Aside from the "Rock Steady" strife, Mary J., who's made a career out of telling the world about her problematic life, said the rainy days are behind her and she plans to reflect it in her album, which has been pushed back to August 21. The first single, the Dr. Dre-produced "Family Affair," keeps with the theme.
"'Family Affair' is celebrating my joy right now, my life," explained Mary, who said she's finally found her soul mate. "I'm no longer what I was, mentally and spiritually. I'm shaking off everything and going off enjoying myself. Leave all your problems aside — this is Mary's joint. We gonna get crunk, and we gonna get drunk. The lyrics say that, but my crunk is having a good time with your friends. It's time for Mary to have a good time."
Although the song is not scheduled to hit radio for the next few weeks, Mary's already visualizing the video concept.
"It's gonna be a message to party without killing. I'm just trying to put a message out there: If you're celebrating, be cool in moderation. Leave all of your drama home and come out to enjoy yourself. Anybody that's coming for anything other than a good time can't get into my party."
Making their way across the velvet rope to indulge in the festivities with M.J.B. are Eve, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the Neptunes and Missy Elliott. Mary, who is looking to solidify a label imprint deal soon, said she'll also be reveling with a new group she plans to put out, the trio Mary Jane's Girls.
"People can look forward to seeing a mixture [of females]," said Blige, who will use the same concept as Rick James' former protégés, the Mary Jane Girls (she said she has James' blessing). "Black, Chinese, white — [they're] gonna be really pretty, sexy and young. But old enough to put sexy clothes on them."
Don't look for the femme fatales anytime soon, though — Mary has to find them first. She said she plans on putting the word out on radio stations and holding auditions.