“Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige may have six Grammy awards, as many No. 1 hits on the hip-hop charts, and recent duets with Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin (not to mention a coveted spot on Malinda‘s Funk/Soul mixtape), but she’s not perfect — or so she would have us believe, according to a new interview with MTV about her forthcoming album.
“We’re all a work in progress,” she says, and describes Growing Pains as an effort to keep moving forward after her Breakthrough. Down-to-earth and open as always, Blige is one work in progress I’m happy to witness.
My latest opportunity to see Blige came along last week, with the premiere of her video for the first Growing Pains single. In true MJB fashion, “Just Fine” has hints of the confessional, but really it’s a fun, up-tempo track that gives her a chance to move — and move she does, through electronic backdrops and too many costume changes to bother counting right into a serious set of heels and a just-as-serious tie.
“Fine” doesn’t begin to cover it, Mary. It’s true — I’m a huge fan of Blige because of her music, and think her most recent studio album The Breakthrough (2005) deserves all the accolades it gets and then some — but I also dig her style. Really, I knew I would as soon as I saw the album cover for her 1992 debut What’s the 411?, and the tattoos are just the icing on a very nice set of arms I’ve been admiring for nearly fifteen years.
In the MTV interview, Blige admits that Rihanna‘s hit “Umbrella” was originally meant for her, but it came along at a time when she was too busy — with the Grammys. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard the song about a thousand times and any number of cover versions about a thousand more, but I can’t quite imagine MJB singing “ella-ella-ella” (and that’s a good thing). I’ll take “Be Without You” or “Family Affair” any day.
“Just Fine” doesn’t have the same edge as the latter number and isn’t as catchy as, say, “No One Will Do,” but it’s growing on me pretty quickly and is certainly enough to make me look forward to the release of Growing Pains on Nov. 27. Check out the video for yourself and let us know what you think — did she miss out with “Umbrella” or will she be more than fine?