Deemed as "an extension" of her sophomore album My Life, Mary J. Blige explains why seventeen years later her 10th studio album is still "very emotional".
It shows the growth and evolution in how far [I]’ve come, but it doesn’t exclude the trials and what life really is. The only way the fans will see our greatest progression together, is how we’ve learned how to get through life, how we learned how to get through trials.
Mary J begins the album with an "Intro" that serves as a disclaimer for those who are tempted to compare 1994’s My Life to My Life II. “It’s not a competitor, it’s a sequel,” she says in a call to P. Diddy. The intro also serves as a "hat tilt appreciation gesture" to Diddy’s presence and role in creating the original album.
There are the obvious distinctions: Blige is no longer in an abusive relationship with drugs or a significant other, contemporary structure - midtempo hip-hop, and six songs featuring other artists (something that our '90s-era Blige would never do).
A gem on the album, "Love a Woman", is a well composed duet that reminds us Beyonce still has some vocal abilities.
"25/8"samples the late Heavy D classic Now That We Found Love. Blige gives this song just enough energy to be reminiscent of her former work.
"Mr. Wrong"- the addition of Drake as Mr. Wrong gives the song an interesting spin.
This album may disappoint fans. They will clearly hear a matured Mary J. Blige, who has learned to embrace her demons but with so-so material.
Bottom Line:Any of Blige’s albums could’ve been called My Life II. I think they just ran out of ideas.