Friday, December 14, 2007
No. 279: My Life
Band: Mary J. Blige
Album: My Life
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Mary J. Blige's second record is decidedly personal. It hits both the positive and the negative aspects of Blige's life at the time. Darker than "What's the 411?" the record was produced by Puff Daddy and has a ton of samples on it.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: This is not a record made for me.
Best song: "I Love You" is pretty.
Worst song: "You Gotta Believe" stinks.
Is it awesome?: Nope.
Where Whitney Houston left off, Mary J. Blige comes in. Certainly, a harder edged singer, Blige's powerful croon has had huge crossover appeal (Jerry Seinfeld was recently on The Daily Show touting a Blige concert he'd enjoyed). Hell, she's been nominated for 26 (!) Grammys, winning six. She's a mainstream star.
I can see the draw in her record, but, for whatever reason, it just doesn't hit me at all. Listening to the Rick James-sampled "Mary Jane (All Night Long)," I just get tired of her scatting in the middle of the song. The easy keyboards on "My Life" sound half-porno soundtrack and half-Muzak. Not a great combination.
Maybe I'm missing something. Certainly, he voice is great, but the fat-girl logic and bizarre optimism of songs like "My Life" (she actually sings the lines "you'll be at peace with yourself" and uses the term "all that negative energy" in the song) seem like a bizarre version of Marvin Gaye's best optimistic work.
Allmusic.com calls it "Perhaps the single finest moment in Sean "Puffy" Combs' musical career," and I'd argue that B.I.G.'s records are better moments, but certainly "My Life" has some solid production on it. Despite some weird choices (the keyboards on "My Life" come to mind), Puffy makes a record of it. Again, it's not for me, but I can see the draw.
I wish I had more, but I still see this as an updated Whitney Houston record with some religious undertones. That is not a compliment.