Results for Mary J. Blige

interviews

Mary J. Blige

With album titles like My Life, No More Drama and Stronger with Each Tear, Mary J. Blige's music reads like an autobiography chronicling her pain and her joy. And now she's added a British chapter to her life. Mary's 13th release The London Sessions captures her 21-day long residency at a London studio where she collaborated with some of the best young artists in the British soul and club scene—names like Sam Smith, Emeli Sande and house duo Disclosure. The result harkens back to old doo wop and soul, but it's also completely fresh. And of course, it's as honest and vulnerable as what we‘d expect from the veteran singer. Ever since her breakout with 1991’s What's the 411, produced by Sean Combs, music has been MJB's "Therapy," as she sings on the new record. This is especially true of 1994's My Life, which spoke to her abusive relationship wtih K-Ci Hailey of Jodeci. And on the positive side, 2005's The Breakthrough was inspired by finding love with Kendu Issacs, her husband/manager of 11 years.

Go to episode 477
reviews
The Breakthrough (Bonus Tracks)Mary available on iTunes

Mary J. Blige Mary

Jim and Greg next review the latest release from reigning R&B queen Mary J. Blige. Blige is an artist who has been put through the ringer, but things were a lot more stable during the making of The Breakthrough. This didn‘t affect Blige’s sound, however, which is as gritty as ever. While Jim and Greg prefer the singer live, they agree that this is Blige's best album since 1992's What's the 411. (Sound Opinions H.Q. also recommends her 1999 release Mary). Our hosts are especially impressed with how Blige manages not to be overshined by the presence of so many star producers like Dr. Dre, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Will.i.am, nor star guests like Jay-Z, Raphael Saadiq and Nina Simone (from the beyond). Fellow divas Beyoncé Knowles and Alicia Keys can't always say that.

JimGreg
Go to episode 6
Stronger With Each Tear (Bonus Track)Stronger with Each Tear available on iTunes

Mary J. Blige Stronger with Each Tear

Jim and Greg continue their winter review round-up with a discussion of Stronger with Each Tear, the 9th album from R&B singer Mary J. Blige. Blige has built a career inspired by a life of drama. Now, self-proclaimed to be drama-free, she has to face doubts that she's lost her power. Jim insists happiness hasn't weakened Blige. What has weakened her is terrible production. With the exception of a beautiful Raphael Saadiq song, this album is filled with generic, glossy R&B. Jim can only give it a Burn It rating. Greg agrees that the production lacks authenticity, but thinks Blige fights through it. She's the best R&B singer working today, and he gives the album a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 216
Growing PainsGrowing Pains available on iTunes

Mary J. Blige Growing Pains

Mary J. Blige is back with a new album that's getting lots of attention. Growing Pains is the R&B diva's 8th album in a career that has seen six Grammy Awards and 40 million records sold. So how does this effort compare? Jim thinks that Blige may have lost some of her edge — whether that's due to sunnier times or sunnier production isn‘t clear though. She’s known for her honest and emotional performances which often relay tough times. But Jim finds Growing Pains a little too sterile. He gives it a Burn It. Greg admits that he too was worried about how a happier MJB would sound, but he disagrees with Jim's conclusion. As a singer she has no peer, and Greg thinks she's gotten even better. He calls Growing Pains another landmark Blige record and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 109
Rated R: RemixedRated R available on iTunes

Rihanna Rated R

Jim and Greg review two new albums-are they triumphs or turkeys? First up is Rated R, the 4th album from Rihanna. The pop singer blew up in 2007 with her song "Umbrella." She was recently in the news for an incident with boyfriend Chris Brown. While Brown was being sentenced for felony assault, Rihanna began working on Rated R. The result, for Greg, is surprisingly a record of substance. While Rihanna didn‘t write the songs, they are haunting and seem to directly address her abusive relationship. He never expected to say it, but Greg thinks this is one of the best records of the year. Jim agrees. He won’t go so far as to compare the pop star to the towering voices of Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin, but Jim thinks Rated R is a record of empowerment. It gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 209
Kaleidoscope DreamKaleidoscope Dream available on iTunes

Miguel Kaleidoscope Dream

Kaleidoscope Dream, the new album by Miguel debuted at #3on the Billboard chart. But he's still an unfamiliar name to most people. The R&B singer and songwriter had moderate success with his first record and has penned songs for Mary J. Blige and Usher. And with this sophomore effort, he really goes all out. You can hear influences from all over the map - from Marvin Gaye to The Zombies. But it's his unique spin and musical chops that make Jim and Greg give the album an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 360
Caracal (Deluxe)Settle available on iTunes

Disclosure Settle

With their 2013 release Settle, the British electronic duo Disclosure seemed destined to take EDM and mainstream pop by storm. They certainly pushed Sam Smith into the stratosphere. Then came a successful collaboration with Mary J. Blige on 2014's The London Sessions. But, Jim and Greg were disappointed to hear the new album Caracal is something of a let down. It's more song-focused, but also more star-focused with guest vocals by Lorde and The Weeknd. Jim and Greg have heard better from Howard and Guy Lawrence and these guest stars. Caracal gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 514
lists

The Best Albums of 2006 (So Far)

While most pop culture mavens wait until the end of the year to tally their favorites, Sound Opinions is so list-crazy, that we've decided to take 2006's half-way mark as an opportunity to take stock. Here are the albums Jim and Greg are loving so far:

Jim DeRogatis:

  1. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  2. Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  3. Misson of Burma, The Obliterati (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  4. Wolfmother, Wolfmother (Interscope)
  5. The Bellrays, Have a Little Faith (Cheap Lullaby)
  6. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Downtown) (hear Jim and Greg's interview with Art Brut)
  7. Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (Matador) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  8. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  9. Dilated Peoples, 20/20 (Capitol)
  10. Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror (Back Porch Records) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  11. The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros.) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  12. Grandaddy, Just Like the Fambly Cat (V2) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  13. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  14. Prince, 3121 (Universal/Motown) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  15. The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers (V2) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  16. Secret Machines, Ten Silver Drops (Reprise) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  17. The Strokes, First Impressions of Earth (RCA) (hear Greg's original review and interview with Julian Casablancas)
  18. The Subways, Young for Eternity (Sire)
  19. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Under the Covers Vol. 1 (Shout Factory)
  20. Neil Young, Living with War (Reprise) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)

Greg Kot (in no particular order):

  1. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (hear Jim and Greg's interview with Art Brut)
  2. Love is All, Nine Times That Same Song
  3. Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  4. Neil Young, Living With War (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  5. Dirty on Purpose, Hallelujah Sirens
  6. Parts and Labor, Stay Afraid
  7. Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  8. Mission of Burma, The Obliterati (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  9. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  10. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Furcoat (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  11. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  12. Anthony Hamilton, Ain‘t Nobody Worryin’ (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  13. Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  14. Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther
  15. Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
Go to episode 31

James Brown's“The Payback”in hip-hop

  • Queen Latifah, "If You Don't Know"
  • LL Cool J, "The Boomin' System"
  • Mary J Blige, "Everything"
  • Ice Cube, "The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit"
  • Massive Attack, "Protection"
  • En Vogue, "(My Lovin‘) You’re Never Gonna Get It"

James Brown fans should also check out the articles written by Jim and Greg after his death.

Go to episode 57

Songs About First Impressions

Whether or not you believe in love at first sight, there's something exciting about laying eyes on someone special for the first time. Jim and Greg share their favorite songs about first impressions.

Go to episode 585

The Best Albums of 2014

Go to episode 471
news

Music News

Jim and Greg talk about some surprising numbers Nielsen SoundScan recently released. According to the sales trackers, 40% of the albums old in 2006 were catalog sales. While there were a number of successful new releases from acts like Mary J. Blige, The Dixie Chicks and High School Musical, it seems that music fans still have a lot of nostalgia for the hair metal era of the 1980s. AC/DC's 1980 album Back in Black sold 444,000 copies last year, a figure that would make a contemporary CD a success. Also faring well was Metallica's 1991 self-titled album, Guns 'N Roses' Appetite for Destruction and Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits collection. The New Jersey band is also having success with their new release Lost Highway, though this is one figure Jim really can't wrap his head around.

Next the hosts discuss their recent experiences at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. The three day festival organized by the Chicago-based Internet music magazine pitchforkmedia.com and indie music promoter Mike Reed was attended by 48,000 people in Chicago's Union Park. In fact, both Jim and Greg worry that the concert is getting too big for its britches, and the park. There were a number of highlights including performances by Yoko Ono, Mastodon and Clipse and full-album performances from Sonic Youth, Slint and GZA. But, one of the problems with a festival that celebrates the underground is that eventually things move above ground. Even Third Stage acts like electronic artist Dan Deacon demanded a huge crowd. In addition a number of artists from previous Pitchfork Festivals are appearing at this year's Lollapalooza. One thing this proves is how big the Pitchfork tastemakers are now. More than MTV play or radio play, it's coverage on indie sites like pitchforkmedia.com that thrust an artist into the spotlight.

Go to episode 86

Music News

The news starts with Front Line Management's lawsuit against Axl Rose. Front Line's founder and chief executive is Irving Azoff, who is also executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, which merged with Ticketmaster last month. Jim and Greg discuss the impact of such a lawsuit on an artist. Considering the mega-corporation controls ticketing, venues and many other aspects of the industry, they may not be one to tangle with. Also, they note that the lawsuit is over a breach of "oral contract." Who agrees to an oral contract these days? Especially with Axl Rose!

Jim and Greg discuss the yet again delayed emergence of Spotify in the U.S. The Internet music service, introduced in 2008 by Daniel Ek, has become one of the most popular of its kind in Europe with 7 million users. But despite rumors that it would come to the States this summer, Ek is still having trouble navigating our thick legal system. He wants Spotify to be legitimate, and that means a lot of licensing fees. But once it does hit our soil, Greg predicts big success.

It hit about 80 degrees this week in Chicago, and while it may snow again next week, we've got our eye on the summer. Jim and Greg run down some of the biggest music festivals of the season. First up is Coachella this month, which will feature Jay-Z, LCD Soundsystem and Faith No More among others. The following month, music fans can travel to Washington for the Sasquatch Festival to see My Morning Jacket, Kid Cudi and Ween. In June Bonnaroo will host the Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder and Weezer. Two of the biggest festivals are right here in our hometown: Pitchfork Music Festival, which will boast a Pavement reunion, and Lollapalooza, which Greg can nearly confirm will have headliners Lady Gaga, Green Day, and a reunited Soundgarden. But, Jim points out that not all of the best multi-act concerts are destination festivals. Lilith Fair is back this year as a traveling women-fueled act with Mary J. Blige, Cat Power and Kelly Clarkson.

Go to episode 227

Music News

The 2006 Nielsen Soundscan midyear report came out this week, and some of its findings are surprising. While the buzz seems to be that the music industry is being killed by digital music sales, which increased by 77% from 2005, albums are only down by 4.2%. So Jim and Greg aren‘t consoling record executives just yet. The more significant revelation? The disconnect between what critics enjoy and what people buy may be even greater than previously thought. The number-one selling album of the year so far is not by a venerated rock artist or a hip-hop star — rather, it’s the soundtrack to High School Musical, a Disney made-for-TV movie. The tween phenomenon shows how young girls still have much of the buying power in the industry. Coming in second is country/pop act Rascal Flatts. And a further scan of the list reveals that Jim and Greg were only compelled to review two of the records on it: Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough and Taking the Long Way by the Dixie Chicks. Hopefully that trends turn around in the months to come. Otherwise Jim and Greg will have to score that interview with Zac after all…

Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett died this week at his home in Cambridge, England. Barrett started the band, which he named after two American bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, in 1965. After releasing The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (which was recorded at Abbey Road the same year as the other British psychedelic hallmark, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band), Barrett became a superstar. However, as Jim and Greg explain, this natural frontman shunned the spotlight. Barrett became a heavy LSD user and was likely suffering from schizophrenia. By 1968 he was forced to leave the band. He subsequently made two solo albums, but eventually went into virtual exile. Yet his influence on the band, and on future musicians, remained strong, as bandmate Nick Mason tells Jim. Mason, like all Pink Floyd fans, understood what a talent Barrett was and wished he had intervened to prevent such a tragic end. Still, Barrett's legacy lives on through his music. Listen to "Baby Lemonade," one of Barrett's last performances with members of Pink Floyd, as well as David Bowie's cover of "See Emily Play."

Go to episode 33

Music News

Jim and Greg have resisted talking about American Idol for quite a while, but this week this pop culture phenomenon couldn‘t be ignored. While these critics still don’t care about the musical impact of the show, they can't deny its significance in the industry. An average of 25 million people tuned in each week to see who would be declared the American Idol, commanding advertising rates that are only exceeded by the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. For the music industry, this means major sales. Past contestants like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken have sold 33 million records, and songs that appear on the show in any form immediately take off on the charts. Labels have taken note, sending aging artists like Rod Stewart, Queen and Barry Manilow, as well as fresher faces like Shakira, Mary J. Blige and Prince, to appear on the show. As much as both our hosts hope that audiences will decide to turn the dial toward something of better musical quality, Greg predicts that hipper acts in need of promotion will soon be calling up Fox. And until then, fans can look forward to much of the same.

Fans who purchased Sony CDs by artists like The Foo Fighters, The Coral, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra can rest easy. While those CDs may have infected your computer with a virus-like anti-piracy software called MediaMax, a judge has ordered Sony to make up for it. Every customer infected with the software will receive a cash payment of $7.50 and one free album download or three free song downloads. Whoever claims that the record industry doesn'y care about the consumer obviously missed this news.

Rumor has it that Sri Lanka-born, England-based rapper M.I.A. is being denied a visa to come to the United States. M.I.A., or Maya Arulpragasam, has plans to record with producer Timbaland, but may have to postpone them. Whether or not the denial is related to the fact that she is the daughter of a Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel, or the fact that many of her song lyrics are overtly political, is not known. What is known, however, is what a raw deal this is. While M.I.A., who has received masses of critical acclaim and was up for the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2005, will not be gracing Americans with her presence, our own Snoop Dogg has recently been barred from the U.K. Sound Opinions is willing to enter into diplomatic negotiations to work this out.

Go to episode 26