Mary J. Blige - The Undeniable Queen of Hip-Hop Soul !
From the time I finish meditating in the morning to the wee hours of the night when my eyes start to get heavy, I’m often listening to music and allowing it to free my mind. Music has played such a significant role in my life since I was a little girl. If you see me out, walking the streets of Brooklyn, 9 times out of 9, I have my headphones in. I’m always enjoying a variety of music genres including new artists and old, but 90s R&B will always have a special spot in my heart. It was so soulful, relatable, and is still able to put me right ‘in my feelings’. When I think about who my favorite artists of that genre are, Mary J. Blige is someone who comes to mind instantly. Her music is timeless and has had me doing everything from crying to dancing, to singing in my mirror, and so much more. There is no doubt about it, Mary J. Blige is the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.
Recently, at the BET Awards, Mary J. Blige received the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was very deserved! It makes my heart smile to see artists being given their flowers while they are still able to smell them. For most artists, their tributes are done by other artists where they perform that artist’s best songs, but who better to perform any of Mary J. Blige’s songs besides the living legend herself? I wouldn’t have wanted to see anyone else perform her songs because no one else’s vocals or dance moves could possibly match. She killed her entire performance! You could see the crowd, filled with her peers, going hard and truly taking in this monumental moment. I danced in front of my TV screen jammin’, having a good ol’ time like I was at an actual concert. Bringing out legends like Lil’ Kim and Method Man to help perform some of her hit songs was the icing on the cake. Hands down this was one of the best award performances I’ve witnessed in a very long time.
If you are a woman, you have probably been moved by at least two of her songs; for me, it’s many more than just two of her songs. Mary J. Blige has the ability to make you feel as if you’ve been through a lot of the things she sings about. If you have been through the topics she sings about, her music sits closely with your heart. I have a playlist on my phone of all albums I consider to be “non-skippable”. By this I mean, once I play one song off the album I have to play the album in its entirety. For me, “Share My World”, her third studio album, is on the top of that list. There’s something so pure about that album and every single song on it just gives a different vibe. I have to sing my heart out every time. For as long as I can remember, I have said that the 11th track “Everything”, is a song that will for sure be played on my wedding day. That song gives me all the feels, reminds me of how beautiful love is, encourages me to keep hope for love alive, and makes me excited for the day I can sing those lyrics to my man.
Beyond being an amazing vocalist, Mary J. Blige is a trendsetter. Working in fashion as a stylist and knowing what styles were popular during which era, I always find myself going back to pictures from the 80s and 90s and being in awe. Since my transition to NYC, I’ve become a huge fan of thrifting and have found some of my best articles of clothing for $10 or less. I have a lot of clothes that are reminiscent of pieces from the 90s. Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim’s style were untouchable during that time as well as the 2000s. They both have had the legendary Misa Hylton as their stylist who have always made sure they were dressed to perfection. When Mary J. Blige first appeared on the music scene, she had a tomboy style and it worked for her. She often wore baseball shirts, baggy pants, and combat boots. Not too many women at the time were singing their hearts out while wearing super loose fitting clothing.
Another thing I often think about when it comes to Mary J. Blige is her thigh-high boots collection! What’s on your feet can truly make or break an outfit completely, so it’s important you’ve got your best foot forward and she makes sure she always does. Even after years in the game, she still won’t take her foot off our necks. It’s been a dream of mine to sit down with Mary J. Blige and get a full-blown tour of her shoe collection because I know it is extensive! I can’t even think of a time I’ve seen her and she didn’t have on a thigh-high boot that made me sit, stare, and ponder on who the designer might be. She is known for this and I am patiently waiting for her to create and come out with her own line of boots.
Mary J. Blige is a woman of absolute style, grace, and soul. Her music will live on forever and remain so fresh to my ears that I can play it again and again without becoming tired. Creating her own lane in both music and fashion, it’s undeniable that she is someone whose time in this industry has helped shape other artists and keep Hip-Hop Soul alive.