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Mary J. Blige Strength of a Woman [Album Review]

Don’t call it a comeback, she’s been here for years, rocking her peers, and sharing sistahs to tear…

You know the name, Mary, MJB, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. The Nine-time Grammy Award winner, 30-times Grammy Nominated, often imitated, never duplicated, yes the R&B legend has returned with a soulful, deeply personal album that luxuriates in the classic sounds of wronged-woman blues, featuring guest spots from Kanye West, DJ Khaled, and Kaytranada.

The Bronx-born, Yonker bred, Schlobohm Houses alum will have you reminiscing the way you used to love her, with the release of her 13th album, “Strength of a Woman,” Tuesday, April 28thIt appears the No More Drama lifestyles once again evades MJB as wounds reopen during a public divorce from her longtime partner of 12 years last Summer, Mary J. Blige has gone through a world of pain & hurt over the past year,  so Strength of a Woman finds its power in going back to basics.

Once again, sharing her pain in what might be her most personable project to date. After a career peppered with songs detailing her abusive relationships and substance addiction, the R&B diva once again finds a reason to look within for affirmation, at age 46. What could be more therapeutic than venting to help navigate those frustrations & emotions through her music? The result another classic Mary J. Blige album and continues to help heal a generation she has become the voice of?

“Love ain’t just black and white / Ain’t that simple, it gets hard to tell whose wrong or right,” Mary reasons on the DJ Camper produced “Thick of It,” the first single released from her project. Thick of It climbed to the top of the Billboard Adult R&B Songs airplay chart in only four weeks — the quickest run to No. 1 in 21 years. The last time a song hit No. 1 in four weeks or less was on the Nov. 11, 1995-dated chart when Whitney Houston’s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (from Waiting to Exhale)

Mary displays her reach on “Glow Up,” hypermodern trap-influenced track without coming off like she fighting to stay relevant featuring Missy Elliot, Quavo, and DJ Khaled, with additional vocals by Jazmine Sullivan. Glow Up fits the post-divorce theme of Strength of a Woman, as she continues to throw her soon-to-be ex-husband under the bus on. ““You can be mad if you wanna / Really I’d be mad too if I lost a real dime ass woman,” she sings.

“Must’ve been crazy to think that you loved me / I saw all the signs but I just couldn’t say nothing” Mary admits on the Brandon “Bam” Hodges-produced “U + Me (Love Lesson),” as she begins to overcome her heartache and look at the experience as a blessing in disguise and a lesson learned. Continuing to build her resolve and attempt to reach the other side of heartbreak, Mary reminds herself of her value, urging listeners to “think about how valuable you are,” and to stay open to receiving love, a message that’s also applicable to herself.

Strength of a Woman is a testament to Mary J. Blige’s vulnerability, as well as her tenacity. The veteran singer has learned the value of turning pain and abuse into motivation, strength, and empowerment.


About AJ Woodson (2373 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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