|One of hip-hop’s most profound and successful female stars, Mary J. Blige has had a career unlike any other. She has eight multi-platinum albums under her belt, and her collective work has earned her nine Grammy Awards and nearly 30 nominations, among her many other accolades. Throughout her career, she’s had the privilege of working with such names as Notorious B.I.G., Sean “Diddy” Combs and 50 Cent, among many other huge artists in and outside of the hip-hop genre. Mary J. Blige’s career started more than 20 years ago, and it isn’t ending any time soon.
From What’s the 411?to hip-hop superstar
Blige’s soulful and uniquely personal sound stemmed from her exposure to and love of artists like Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight as a child. Fans first got a taste of her raw and intimate music when she dropped her debut album, called What’s the 411?, which was executive produced by Sean Combs. With singles like “You Remind Me" and "Real Love" reaching the top of the R&B charts, it was immediately clear Blige was going to be a success.
Her following album, My Love released in 1994, was perhaps even more personal and garnered adoration for hits like “Be Happy.” Fans loved Blige not only for her music, but for her ability to show vulnerability and passionate emotion in each song.
These two albums were just the beginning of Blige’s career, which has since blossomed with several subsequent multi-platinum albums, including the self-titled Mary in 1999 and Stronger Without a Tear in 2009. Each album Blige has dropped has given fans a glimpse into her life, from the good to the bad. In that way, her albums are more than just music - they tell a story as well.
The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul
Early in her career, it became clear that Blige had a completely different sound and style than other female artists of the time. Her music was gritty, raw and real, and her voice was soulful and emotional. She wore baggy clothing and embraced her urban background. All of this led to her being called “The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.” In fact, many people credit Blige with inventing the style of soulful hip-hop that’s now so popular. Critics say her first two albums were very influential for other ’90s hip-hop artists. The title has followed the legendary singer throughout her career, and it becomes truer with every new album or single she releases.
Mary J. Blige has become more than just a legendary artist. In 2004 she opened her own record label, called Matriarch Records, and has since started producing music. She’s also written music for film and television, including co-writing “I Can See in Color,” for the “Precious” soundtrack. Blige has also broken into acting, working in both films and television roles.
As the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige has paved the way for many other artists, and her music is still as gritty and personal as ever.