When someone mentions the name Mary Jane, it automatically triggers a Pandora`s box of various meaningful symbolistic forms. From Marvel`s and Stan Lee`s Mary Jane Watson, our Superhero Spiderman`s red-head crush to Rick James`s “MJ” aka marijuana, the choice circle goes wide like the wildest animal. But, one more name gets the hang of the vast proportion of blissful meaning when legendary legacy of heart-warming R`n`B comes to action. It`s the true heroine, Bronx`s very own, miss Mary J. Blige. With her 13th studio album “Strength Of A Woman”, MJB announces her big comeback.
After breaking off her 12-year marriage, the big project must uphold that component drama, but we also hope there`s a little bit more, fresh of the table that our Mary Jane cooked for the 2017 event theme. Let`s grab those chairs and see what`s inside this songbook.
- Love Yourself f. Kanye West
- Thick Of It
- Set Me Free
- It’s Me
- Glow Up f. Quavo, DJ Khaled & Missy Elliott
- U + Me (Love Lesson)
- Thank You
- Find The Love
- Smile f. Prince Charlez
- Telling The Truth f. Kaytranada
- Strength Of A Woman
- Hello Father
Love And Freedom Wind
“Strength Of A Woman” opens up with couple of patiently-smart-constructed songs. At the very start, we can indulge in very smoothly done super-dope dropped beat of “Love Yourself” featuring Kanye West. And you can easily put this as the no. 1 favorite pick. The sampled trumpet lines enlighten the whole atmosphere while Mary J teaches to love yourself first before anyone else. Dj Camper did amazing job with the beat production.
Promoted via video message too, second single “Thick Of It” broke all the records in just a few weeks. Including the fastest climbed single to no. 1 in 20 years since Whitney Houston`s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” from 1995. Dj Camper with another great slow-roll production rendition, reigning with them 808 hitters. The song touches the main theme of the album obviously, Mary`s 12-year old marriage break-up. MJB even opens up in an interview last year about this, saying how personal this song is to her:
“This song is so personal it’s almost painful to let it out. I don’t hold back though, it’s not who I am and there’s no way I am going to start changing now. We all deal with love and the emotions that we get tangled up in, and we gotta survive, grow and remain honest to our best selves.”
That Soulful Freedom Talk That Show Cast A Real
“Strenght Of A Woman”
“There`s a special place in Hell for you” lingers out of Mary J`s mouth as she soulfully confesses what she has been through in her long-year relationship with her manager Martin “Kendu” Issacs. And she`s also thankful to herself and her freedom for letting her get it out of her system. She also thanks her ex for another inspiration and for “Setting Her Free”.
One of my favorite producers Bam joins the next producer task in making the wonderfully chill R`n`B jam “It`s Me”. Tomming down on them drums, Bam helps Mary express more of her broken emotions. “Why you acting like a stranger it’s me, I have always been the same girl it’s me, it’s me”, states the R`n`B diva while trying to settle the passion. And the Bam`s breath chant sampling swifting from your left to right ear will kick-start your enlightenment in dropping another favorite to your playlist.
Mary`s Street Swag And Intimate Sessions
For the sassy emotion-breaker “Glow Up” Mary J Blige calls up Missy Elliot, Quavo and Dj Khaled to create a swaggy street look and cocky pick at her ex. Even though in Mary`s typical down tempo, the jam brings the wanted and desired distinctiveness and slays with the dopiness level. A thug Mary intelligently explains couple of things to her ex and with team work from Missy and Quavo gets the hit hotter than ever for them clubs!
After that nice dressing, the kitchen just got steamier and Mary J gets back to her emotionally silk state of display. In incredibly slick beat by Brandon “Bam” Hodge, “U + Me (Love Session)”, Mary hooks:
“You plus me was a love lesson
In too deep without imperfection
Not always good, but I stayed on my feet
You had me, should’ve never questioned”.
I have to be more technical here for a bit. The instrumental is amazing, but what I caught in the meanwhile was this mixdown/master dynamics automation bug. Well, I wouldn`t exactly call it a bug, but the difference is there and I cannot decide if it bothers me or actually feels comfortable. These slight bumps or changing of different part levels may have been put there intentionally. Either way, it feels like a light breeze to the ears, like the pressure comes down for a sec., resting your ears from the heavy filtered bass layering. The first big jump that any listener can recognize is at the second minute point.
After the drop, and when the hook starts, we hear “into deep with an imperfection” coming out of the basement straight to the front door. Then the levels stabilize again, and we hear much less difference, but it`s there. This is something not uncommon at all, and nothing to drag along, but it`s still worth the mention. Still fits to the top favorite list.
Women`s Power Anthem
Bam stays on the production and creates a powerful “Strength Of A Woman” anthem for Mary called “Indestructible”.
“I know he hurt you after swearing that he would change
You’re not the first to take him back again and again
And you ain’t the first to cry, ain’t the first one asking why
So you can’t give up the fight, you never know when it’s your time”.
This is the basic classroom lecturing on making an anthem touching on the value of a heartbroken woman. Great reminder.
More Breaking Up News
After my launch break, I come back fully saturated to discover some more of Mary J`s emotional outbreaks. Next in line, “Thank You”, another heart-breaking slow jam made for her manager/ex husband. It`s a pure ballad with ticking hi-hits and distorted, fading plucked electric guitars. Mary again thanks her former man for showing his real face and making her move on.
After the dramatic revelation and a thankful note, Mary is ready to get up strong and survive through it. That`s way the next joint is called “Survivor”. MJB sings: “No matter how low I go, I’m gonna rise up” and “And now I’m finally seeing me clearly
And I can work with the pain ’cause you build me”. So we see a big impact on Mary J Blige`s current moment in life and how she, as a very strong woman deals with it. Simultaneously sending the message of support to other women being in the same or similar situation.
Energy Switch Up
After sombering up, Mary turns the dance floors up and creates something more groovy. In Funky/Pop cheerful track, Mary J preaches on “finding the love” therefore the title “Find The Love”. It`s a classic and takes you back to the lovely 90`s baby! I`m half-the-time clapping, half-the-time typing now. This could easily be written in conjunction with Stevie Wonder. Definitely his kind of thing.
“Strength Of A Woman” : Final Chapter
“Strength Of A Woman”`s final chapter is threaded with last four symbolic song choices that each provide an unique feeling and mood. In “Smile” featuring Prince Charlez, Mary gives piano lesson ballad opening her heart to love together with Charlez . Instrumental is produced by Neffu, who managed to sync in MJ`s getaway from hurt and help the two singers smile towards new beautiful things.
Truth And Nothing But The Truth
The crying time is over and no time for the past is the theme that the next single reflects. “Telling The Truth” is yet another great project made in production and vocal collaboration with amazing Louis Kevin Celestin aka KAYTRANADA. This electronic music producer, musician and a Dj sprays his creative mind impressively. But he is not alone is this great acoustical instrumentation arrangement. BADBADNOTGOOD trio amazes again with their pick ups. Great package all together.
Album`s Theme Hit
Then Bam does something really interesting. He borrows his stoking beat deed which he previously did for wonderful young R`n`B artist Rotimi under the name “Paradise” and flips it for the R`n`B queen for the main album`s theme trick. It took me some time, but I managed to remember because it is one of my eternal soulfood jams, the instrumental is Universally God-given gift. I am glad there are two versions though. But I prefer the Rotimi`s share of the royalties which you could compare by watching his official video here.
Letter To Dad/God?
Last of them powerful Mary J Blige sonic links is “Hello Father”. At first Mary lets you think she`s singing to her dad, but later on, we encounter the confessions in front of the higher one. Mary thanks God for the strength, love, blessings and the good and the bad things happening in her life. The last beat belongs to the legend Hit-Boy who dropped some cutting-edge stringing to life. Again, hats down.
Stamping Up The Long Report
Yes, it`s been a loooong road for your reading curious eyes, but believe me it is completely worth it. Well, what can I say but this, Mary J Blige really succeeds to surprise with this album craft big time! I expected a typical, signature R`n`B trails, but I was left totally unprepared for the new fresh history writings from Mary Jane.
It didn`t leave me indifferent at all, not a single moment of single track. At the beginning I thought, I will have maybe 2 or 3 tracks that I can set aside for the highlighting form of sampling. But as I went deeper and deeper into it, Mary`s “Strength Of A Woman” became the staggering trigger to a new extent of time, love, existence, faith and courage.
13th edition brought a newborn ray of music light and produced brand new atoms of woman`s vigour. Nothing further to add, except lock the perfect, most purest 10/10 for this artful collection of Mary J Blige world. The “Album Of The Year” wrap securely awaits for you.
Give it a go and take an immediate listen at the Spotify player below or purchase here. Big salute!