There’s a fine line in music between innovating genuinely as an artist or latching on to a trend to stay relevant. Too often we’ve seen artists become has-beens when they try to jump on a hot fad in the hopes of holding on to our attention for one last second.
When it comes to the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J Blige has had years of brilliance juxtaposed with minutes of ‘oh God, what was she thinking?’ (insert Burger King commercial singing about crispy chicken). But those moments of misjudgement could never negate, to me, Mary’s undeniable talent. Her voice is captivating and I’ve always been a fan of her street-meets-class style.
So you can imagine my excitement when I heard her duet with UK crooner Sam Smith for his hit song Stay With Me. Two powerhouse voices created an amazing sound which led to her travelling to London, UK and embarking on a new musical chapter. After meeting and working with UK artists such as producer Naughty Boy and Disclosure along with singer Emeli Sande, Mary is about to release her next album amply titled ‘The London Sessions’ on Nov 24th.
The released tracks Therapy, Right Now and Whole Damn Year ooze London. You can hear the rain and the gritty bustle of that busy city just in her voice. A divergence away from the hip hop bass line in her previous work, London Sessions has jazz instrumentals as heard on ‘Therapy’ as well as the fun dance sound of the UK on ‘Right Now’.
Mary has grown, and she knows her audience has grown with her. Instead of trying to hold on to the ‘Real Love’ Mary of the ’90s, she’s embraced her growth and shared with us her scars in all their glory.