Rolling Stone (10/31/02, p.136) - Ranked # 17 in Rolling Stone's "Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums" - "...Opaque, seductive..."
Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.74) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's."
Spin (9/99, p.156) - Ranked #72 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Entertainment Weekly (11/25/94, p.77) - "...more serious than her crossover 1992 debut....[Mary J. Blige] continues soaring to soulful heights over streetwise beats..." - Rating: B
Vibe (12/99, p.160) - Included in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century
Musician (3/95, p.88) - "As the album's intro makes plain, even Blige's own camp worried whether she could `do it again,' and to be honest, she doesn't--she does it better....She...knows how to work a groove..."
NME (Magazine) (1/7/95, p.34) - 7 (out of 10) - "...In rap, the beats sometimes seem irrelevant compared to the chat: here they reign supreme. Blige is telling her audience she grew up the same way they did, listened to the same things, was influenced by the same situations. That's what makes her so beloved..."
Personnel includes: Mary J. Blige, Keith Murray (vocals); Chucky Thompson, Herb Middleton (various instruments); "Bassy" Bob Brockmann (strings, keyboards, programming); Regina Carter, Diane Monroe, Lesa Terry (violin); Eileen Folson (cello); Gloria Agostini (harp); "Prince" Charles Alexander (flute, piccolo, tenor saxophone); Mark "Led" Ledford, Bruce Purse (trumpet); Lenny Underwood (piano); Victor Bailey (bass); Kevin "K-Dog" Johnson (drums); LaTonya J. Blige, Faith Evans, Big Bub (background vocals); JoJo Hailey, K-Ci Hailey.
Producers include: Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Nashiem Myrick, Herb Middleton, Mr. Dalvin.
Engineers include: Nashiem Myrick, Tony Maserati, Rich Travali.
Recorded at Sound On Sound Recording Studio, Axis Studios, Daddy's House, The Hit Factory and Clinton Recording Studios, New York, New York.
MY LIFE was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.
The immediate success of her triple-platinum debut WHAT'S THE 411? put Mary J. Blige in a singular class as a soul-hop visionary, and opened the door for other hip-hop-influenced R&B acts. Yet as the follow-up approached, the nature of her talent began to be questioned, and the strength of her debut became an obstacle.
If Blige heard all those rumors, she must've decided that musical revenge is the best payback of all. Thus, MY LIFE comes across as another ground-breaking venture, linking R&B's new and old schools, filling the airwaves with delightful harmonies AND hip-hop samples. When Blige connects with her music's roots, she doesn't pussy-foot around soul's perimeters searching for eligible influences--so "You Bring Me Joy," "My Life" and "Be Happy" sample such luminaries as Barry White, Roy Ayers and Curtis Mayfield, respectively. The reconstruction of the Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long" is (Mary Jane) Blige's shout-out to the funky '80s, while "Don't Go" is a feminist retort to Guy's "Goodbye."
Even though much of the album's musical direction is steered by producers Sean "Puffy" Combs and Chucky Thompson, Blige is the dominant songwriter here. And that's the main reason MY LIFE turns out to be such a statement of purpose--a 17-song diary full of Blige's life, love, and struggles in defending her title as the queen of hip-hop soul.
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- Mary J. Blige Smooth Jazz Tribute (The Smooth Jazz All Stars)