Album Preview: Mary J. Blige – ‘My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act I)’

My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act I)

It’s been 17 years since Mary J. Blige released her breakthrough album My Life. Ten albums later, she picks up where the story left off on My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act I). Rap-Up.com got a first listen to the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s highly-anticipated sequel at a listening in Los Angeles.

The 15 tracks include a mix of club bangers, ballads, mid-tempos, and plenty of superstar guests. MJB duets with fellow diva Beyoncé on the female empowering “Love a Woman,” falls for “Mr. Wrong” on her Drake-assisted single, and gets deep with Nas on the hip-hop throwback “Feel Inside.”

Mary experiences the ups and downs of love, sharing her most vulnerable moments (“Irreversible”) and finally finding her strength (“The Living Proof”). My Life II features contributions from hitmakers including Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, Danja, Jerry Wonda, Eric Hudson, and Rodney “Darchild” Jerkins, who produced a dance floor-ready cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.”

Rap-Up.com has an exclusive track-by-track breakdown of what you can expect come November 21.

1. “Intro” featuring Diddy

The album opens with Mary having a conversation with Sean “Diddy” Combs. During their phone call, she asks her former label boss and mentor what he thinks about her doing a sequel to the 1994 album he executive produced. “It would never be complete without you,” she tells him, to which he responds, “Let’s get it.”

2. “Feel Inside” featuring Nas

A previously leaked version of the record featured Nicki Minaj, but it’s Nas who appears on the final version. Written by Andrea Martin (Melanie Fiona, Leona Lewis), MJB and Nas reminisce over a hip-hop-heavy beat. “Remember when we loved each other/ Bathtub scrubbed each other/ Chillin’, champagne spillin’/ Feelin’ like this shit gon’ last forever,” raps Nas, while Mary pours out her heart as she recalls a past relationship.

3. “Midnight Drive” feat. Brook Lynn

The drum-patterned track, written and produced by Rico Love, opens with a rap from Mary’s alter ego Brook Lynn. “Homegirls love me and we be riding Phantoms/ Mad chicks hate me ’cause I be writing anthems/ Plus you know I’m loaded, just signed an expansion/ Yeah I’m goin’ ’cause he’s dark and he’s handsome,” she rhymes. A lovestruck Mary puts everything aside and rushes to her man’s side when he calls her. “It’s something different/ Something crazy happens/ I’ll come running when I hear my phone ring,” she sings as she makes the late-night drive. “Gotta get to my baby.”

4. “Next Level” feat. Busta Rhymes

Another one of Rico Love’s contributions, this bass-heavy club banger is one of the standouts on the album. Busta kicks off the feel-good record with his rapid rhymes (“Hot and steamy like my mother cooked a little rice up”) before throwing it to Mary, who tells her girlfriends she’s staying home with her man so they can take their relationship to the “next level.” Bussa Bus peppers the track with his signature ad-libs as Mary revels in her love.

5. “Ain’t Nobody”

MJB turns Rufus & Chaka Khan’s joyful classic “Ain’t Nobody” into a 2012 dance floor anthem with help from Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. Mary lays down Chaka’s familiar lyrics over the thumping bassline. This one is sure to be heard at weddings everywhere.

6. “25/8″

Mary puts in overtime as she sings about giving all her love on the album’s soulful first single produced by Eric Hudson.

7. “Don’t Mind”

No matter who or what may try to come between them, Mary stays true to her man on this rocking mid-tempo, where she professes her love and loyalty. “They were right, love is blind/ I can’t see nothing but you,” she sings, while letting him call the shots for the night. “And that’s why I don’t mind saying I love you,” she says on the hook.

8. “No Condition”

A fragile MJB deals with the aftermath of a painful breakup on the echoing ballad. “Baby I gave you everything that I could give you/ So I made my decision, that loving you’s been a mission,” she sings over chants of “Ayyy ohhh.” “I’m in no condition to love you.”

9. “Mr. Wrong” feat. Drake

The second single from My Life II opens with a verse from Drake. On the Jim Jonsin and Rico Love production, Mary finds herself falling for bad boys despite what her family tells her. “Don’t it seem like I’m always there when it matters, but missing most of the other time, a terrible pattern,” spits Drizzy, as Mary sings, “Bad boys ain’t no good/ Good boys ain’t no fun.” Despite her broken heart, she can’t move on.

10. “Why” feat. Rick Ross

Rick Ross intros the breezy track in his husky voice, while Mary wonders why she and her man just can’t get it right. “She fell in love with my technique/ I made her call me boss when we in the bed sheets,” raps Rozay, who returns later in the song. “Hold your glasses up, baby/ You’re in the presence of greatness/ It’s the queen of our time, Mary J.,” he proclaims.

11. “Love a Woman” feat. Beyoncé

Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé represent for the ladies on this soulful mid-tempo. The powerhouse divas take turns telling the opposite sex what they want in a relationship while displaying their powerful pipes. Mary opens the empowering track before B chimes in. “A woman needs you to love her, she needs more than sex,” declares the pregnant songstress. Fellas, take notes.

12. “Irreversible”

You can feel the emotion as Mary shares her pain on this powerful ballad. “You didn’t even have the decency to intervene when I was begging for you to love me,” she tells her lover, but all she gets in return is the cold shoulder. “I try my best to keep you here, but it’s hard to hold a shadow.”

13. “Empty Prayers”

This track was not played during the listening.

14. “Need Someone to Love You”

A cover of Justin Timberlake signee Matt Morris’ “Someone to Love You,” Mary effortlessly glides over the tender, stripped down production, which features acoustic guitar. “But you need to someone to love you, need someone to hold you, tonight,” she sings in a soothing tone.

15. “The Living Proof”

The Underdogs-produced song was recorded as the theme for the movie The Help and is a fitting conclusion to the album. Mary weathers the storm and emerges stronger after her long journey. “Nothing ’bout my life’s been easy/ And nothing’s gonna keep me down,” preaches a resilient Mary as Act I of her sequel comes to a close.



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61 Comments

  1. queenb

    I’m here for “Love A Woman”!!!!!!

    [Reply]

  2. Mr

    Wana hear the Beyonce track

    [Reply]

  3. MaryJALLDay

    I canNOT WAIT to cop this album!!! Mary Maaaary (in my “what’s the 411″ interlude voice)

    [Reply]

  4. Beyonce is desperate

    This is the true Queen of R&B. All the others are fake, liars, and thieves.

    [Reply]

    KillBill Reply:

    @Beyonce is desperate, Mary herself will tell you that she is the Queen of Hip Hop soul, Beyoncé is the true King of R&B

    [Reply]

    OOL Uh Uh Reply:

    @KillBill, Youre prolly like 22 and knows nothing about music. R&B stands for “Rhythm and Blues”. Thas Mary aaaaaaall day. Bey hasnt had an R&B album since DIL. This new stuff is something else. It’s not the same genre…something like a hybrid.

    [Reply]

    KillBill Reply:

    @OOL Uh Uh, No I’m just a music major, I know my shit……… Like I said Mary doesn’t consider herself Queen of R&B. She is more Soul with hints of Hip Hop. Beyonce 4 album is full of R&B and Soul..

    [Reply]

    Dave Reply:

    @KillBill, dead you must not be a good music major because Beyonce’s album is not full of R&B. I have it myself. Actually not 1 track on there is R&B. R&B can be told by the production. I was gonna say “1+1″, but if you listen to it, it’s more of a country-based ballad. It can slightly given a R&B nod, but it’s really not. She herself labeled the album as “revolutionary sound.” If anything it’s an eclectic album w/ hints of R&B mixed.

    [Reply]

    Music Reply:

    @Dave, Truthfully, and this is to all of y’all Mary J. Blige is the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, and Beyonce is the, as most people say, Queen of R&B and Queen of Pop, I really don’t know what to call Beyonce but one thing that I do know is none of these ladies and other Female R&B artists are the Queen of R&B, and none of these male R&B artists are the King of R&B, because as OOL Uh Uh has stated R&B stands for Rhythm and Blues, there is no artist nowadays who does Rhythm and Blues, what is down nowadays is Modern Day R&B or Contemporary R&B, which is, Soul, hip hop. Rhythm and Blues, and Funk elements combined. So in other words there truthfully is no Queen or King of R&B, but what I know is R. Kelly and Usher are the Kings of Contemporary R&B, and Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Janet Jackson are the Queens of Contemporary R&B.

    brainfood.com Reply:

    @KillBill,

    Actually R. Kelly is the King of R&B. I feel you on the King B, but let’s keep it 1 hundred please.

    And to be honest, I really haven’t heard anybody (accept stans) call B the queen of anything acept maybe pop. When critics speak of Mary, they always refer to her as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. I’ve heard critics call B “Queen B,” or “The Queen,” but this doesn’t take away from anybody else’s queenship. I don’t know why her stans always take away from others to prop her up. Her talent does this very well.

    At any rate, if Beyonce has been called a Queen of R&B, I didn’t know. She’s usually just refered to as the Queen. And I thought Britney was the Queen of Pop? I’ve never heard Beyonce beind called the Queen of Pop. I can get Queen of R&B, but pop? Come on now. Ya’ll know Britney got that genre sown up (even with the songs that ain’t even that good) Brit got a STRONG fan base.

    I’m done. Ya’ll have a good day!

    [Reply]

    Cuz Reply:

    @Beyonce is desperate, Yes she truly is the Queen and any girl that will refer to herself as the king is a boy

    [Reply]

    latonya Reply:

    @Cuz, beyonce did a more 80′s/90′s soul album. mary is more soul / hiphop. She embodies great music. i can’t wait here her album

    oh and …OMG I NEVER NEW THAT R&b meant rythme & Blues

    [Reply]

  5. MjbDaMvp

    Omg I’m so fucking hyped 4 this

    [Reply]

  6. Jane Doe

    YAYYY. Can’t wait for this album. Mary is snatching wigs this era. #TheUndisputedQueenofHipHopSoul

    [Reply]

    peasant Reply:

    @Jane Doe, not really.

    [Reply]

    Jane Doe Reply:

    @peasant, yes really. Stop fucking hating. Bye-bye

    [Reply]

    peasant Reply:

    @Jane Doe, keep dreaming boo boo. prolly wendy williams wig *chuckles

    [Reply]

    Ed Reply:

    @peasant, LMFAO

    [Reply]

  7. Marysjoint

    Cant wait for the Album-Its Gonna Be Special- Nobody Can Touch Mary J Blige-Showing Just Why She’s The Queen

    [Reply]

  8. jocy

    OMG! I want the song “Love a woman” now! :D

    [Reply]

  9. Deveal2012

    I’m very excited for this album. I love MJB! And I’m sure the album is amazing

    [Reply]

  10. Deveal2012

    But where is “Masterpiece “

    [Reply]

  11. Kyle

    I can’t wait for this album!!!!

    [Reply]

  12. nufsed

    I am SOLD! I am a FAN! I am SO READY! Give it to me Mary! Just from the collabs you can tell effort was placed in this. The lyrics are on the same chassis as the original “My Life” just on a redemption level. SPEECHLESS!

    [Reply]

  13. r.e.d. $$$

    noooooooooooooooooo chucky thompson =solid album………… commercially……. critically FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Jane Doe Reply:

    @r.e.d. $$$, stop hating fag. Maybe he wasn’t available. Mary can’t repeat “94″. She already said that.

    [Reply]

  14. MaryJBligeNews

    Can’t wait. I’m getting 7483839626253836363838467393736 copies of “My Life II”.

    [Reply]

  15. mary4ever

    Mary j obliged is a better artist then everybody she enlisted on this LP she is the true queen of music not just rnb. Beyonce is good but Mary j is great

    [Reply]

  16. OOL Uh Uh

    I do wish that Chucky was present. He was a maaaaajor part, as well as Faith Evans, of My Life. :( Oh, what an era? ::sigh::

    [Reply]

  17. Orlando

    ohh fuck yeah buyin dat album fuck itunes store

    [Reply]

  18. Von Tae'

    Love A Woman . Thats What Im Here For, Lol

    [Reply]

  19. Kayla

    Sounds like it’s gonna be a good album. Love Mary!

    [Reply]

  20. Tyrone

    This album is going to be a classic!

    [Reply]

  21. MaZ

    Promising. Can’t wait to hear it.

    [Reply]

  22. todd

    beyonce is overrated

    [Reply]

    Robert Reply:

    @todd, How can talent be overrated? Can you explain that to me?

    [Reply]

  23. Kevbo

    Beyond Excited!

    [Reply]

  24. ms.white

    I hope It’s better than her last.

    [Reply]

  25. OOL UH UH

    My bad. BRANDY is still the Queen of R & B Check for that new album.

    [Reply]

  26. Brandon

    She’s doing too much with that title, lol.

    [Reply]

    Jane Doe Reply:

    @Brandon, That title means everything to ppl. Mary moved the world with that title. She’s gonna do it again. Respect the Queen.

    [Reply]

  27. HARP

    this album is actually looking good… comeback?

    [Reply]

  28. Xhris

    she should have done something with kim, mariah and not drake, or rick ross.

    [Reply]

    queen bitch baby!! Reply:

    @Xhris, i sooooo agree….we shall see, im disappointed a bit in the features

    [Reply]

  29. D.T.

    50 million sold worldwide, nine Grammys…The Queen will return on 11•21•11

    [Reply]

    Jane Doe Reply:

    @D.T., thank-you. Mary has nothing more to prove. Her #20 yrs of putting it down in the industry speaks volumes.

    [Reply]

  30. Andre Mackey

    I am a big fan of Mary J. and i grew up listening too her music. She is a awesome woman and her music have meaning and uplifting. She a experience woman about life relations and that can be a help too the listening ear.May GOD bless her and i’m looking foward for her to commit to gospel recording as GOD leads her too another level in her life!! LOVE YOU MARY J.!!!

    [Reply]

  31. Trent

    Seems like Rihanna won’t be getting that no.1 album after all lol. Seeing that MJB’s album drops the same day am sure it will push more…

    [Reply]

    mofan95 Reply:

    @Trent, Mary always pushes over 300K during the holiday season so no worries unless Susan Boyle, who is releasing another album this year, dominates like the past two years.

    [Reply]

  32. mofan95

    I really want this album. I bought all of Mary’s album but I never had so much anticipation for a Mary album since The Breakthrough!!!!

    [Reply]

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  37. aROB

    Thank you Jesus ! I love Beyonce, but her and Alicia had a crappy song. I love when Beyonce keeps it R&B, Thanks Mary

    [Reply]

  38. Theives identity theft

    Theives identity theft…

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  40. Disco

    MJB DA MVP, thank u for the memories

    [Reply]

  41. Marlow

    I will be buyin this cd I love all your music…..

    [Reply]

  42. acoustic

    acoustic…

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