Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mary J Blige "My Life II" Album Review

I hate intro's, outro's, and skits, especially on an actual album, so I'll just skip right by that and start with the jumpoff "Feel Inside" featuring Nas. "Feel Inside" is a dope record with a throwback big-beat vibe. I especially like the breakdowns; something I wish more producers would do when working out song arrangements. Hearing Mary J Blige return with more of her original Hip-Hop/Soul flava is a blessing - this is the Mary J Blige I fell in love with in the beginning. It doesn't end with "Feel Inside".

"Midnight Drive" is an ill Digable Planets type record with a reverb on the drums that almost reminded me of classic Run-DMC. The song is minimal with the major focus on Mary's voice and that dope beat. I love "Midnight Drive" and will definitely be twisting it in my mixes. Even though I am huge Busta Rhymes fan I wasn't really feeling the "Next Level" record at first, but it grew on me quick. It has a great summertime party vibe that just feels good. Wait until you hear it bumpin at a pool party or a summertime BBQ party and you'll be loving it in the right setting. The remake of Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" is cool as a tribute, but definitely not one of my favorites. Not because it's not good; I'm just not a fan of cover songs. I might have like it if she had a producer come in and twist the music up with a brand new funk and totally new feel, but sticking with the original vibe was just boring to me. "25/8" has been getting enough play that I am already tired of it. If you don't know it by name, you'll recognize it as soon as it starts.

"Don't Mind" is a record I will be chopping A LOT, thanks to the ill production from Jerry Wonda. That clip of open bars at the beginning makes for a dope break to be flipped under all kinds of mixes for the DJs. "No Condition" didn't really grab me, especially with the long intro and the constant drums. I didn't like the snare or the hats (especially the pattern). Just not really big on the "No Condition" record. I've never been a huge Drake fan, but I can't front on the "Mr Wrong" record. Drake and Mary J Blige sound good together and their collab on the song "Mr Wrong" is solid. Of course it never hurts to have a super-producer like Jim Jonsin behind any record which makes "Mr Wrong" as close to a sure thing as you could possibly create. Follow that up with the big "Why" record featuring Rick Ross which is a top pick from the album. I really liked the live drum feel that producer Eric Hudson used to build the song.

Aside from the snare, I love the "Love a Woman" record. Even without the Beyonce feature this record is easily a top pick from the album. Don't get it twisted though, Beyonce rips this record with a blazing voice and definitely does not detract at all from the hit value (obviously). "Irreversible" is okay, but not enough to force you to buy the Deluxe Edition release. "Empty Prayers" actually had me skipping ahead. It will probably hit home for some people with it's message, but I can't think of a practical use for the record from a DJ perspective. That same thing holds true for "Need Someone", but I liked the folk song feel with the acoustic guitar even though I have to admit it was teetering on a country & western vibe. I completely lost interest with the "Living Proof" record. Mybe I have ADD or something, but the record just could not hold my attention.

You can also get that iTunes bonus record "Get It Right", although I didn't think it was a huge missing piece from the album. I fully expect "Miss Me With That" to appear in a man-bashing movie in the very near future. Picture the scene from Waiting to Exhale when old girl burns her husband's clothes and shit in the car in the driveway...this song could definitely be the music backdrop. Even though the "Someone to Love Me (Naked)" remix has been floating around since January, I still dig the record (with or without Lil Wayne and Diddy) not to mention the fact that Mary J Blige in that white fur and over-the-knee boots still strikes me as damn sexy...maybe I should have added the disclaimer that I have always been a fan of Mary J Blige and swear to God she can get it anytime she wants.

I could be wrong, but the "You Want This" bonus track sure reminds me of the Mary Jane Girls...most likely because of the funk vibe I guess. Regardless, I liked the record for (once again) a summertime pool party/BBQ vibe. "This Love is For You" makes sense for a UK Deluxe Edition with it's big European club flava. I've never been a fan of the glow sticks and whistles sound so I can't even finish listening to this record. I'll just call it a gift for her UK fans. Enjoy. "One Life" is on the UK Deluxe Edition too, but this is a record I can at least listen all the way through - although its not a disaster that it isn't included on the US editions.
Overall I love what Mary J Blige has put together for her "My Life II" album. More of a return to the Mary I fell in love with a lean towards Hip-Hop. I think she brought in just the right number of features for them to be special, but not detract from her shine. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this album for anyone looking to spend some money on music...for those who still do that, although I don't think it will fall in my top 10 albums of 2011 list.

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