Friday, December 30, 2005

ElleB's Hall of Fame...

Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough.

I know that it has been several week since doing an Elle B Hall of Fame induction. Although I originally planned to do inductions weekly, I found it to be difficult to post about music that I epitomize. Although it sounds like a simple task, giving proper tribute takes time and so instead of rushing week-to-week, I've decided instead to add a new inductee when the spirit moves me...

Well I most surely have been moved. Mary J. Blige's most recent effort is nothing short of amazing for so many reasons. As the title suggests, this album reflects a new plateau of spirituality, self-perception and strength that Mary is now standing on. She's been saying she's Not Gon' Cry for years, but finally has said that's Enough Cryin' on the The Breakthrough. I believe her.

But beyond her emotional development, Mary's The Breakthrough is symbolic for so much more. I've always loved Mary, ever since I was allowed to listen to contemporary RnB and Hip-Hop. Before Lil Mo and Fabolous or Ashanti and Ja Rule or Kelly and Nelly, Mary has been the tie that bonded RnB with Hip-hop and has done so quite seamlessly. Calling to mind her appearance on "Can't Knock the Hustle" on Jay's classic debut Reasonable Doubt, or Mary's top singles from Share My World featuring Nas on "Love is All We Need" and Lil Kim on "I Can Love You." Or native ties to Diddy from Uptown days with What's the 411? Lauryn Hill maybe the only one who has done it better. But for these tracks, we've known her and revered her as the Queen of Hip-Hop soul, our own kind of royalty. But if you look carefully, you can see that she's elevated to much more than that today - still wearing her crown proudly from where's come from and reigned, but certainly enlarging her territory.

I've chosen to induct The Breakthrough album because it is a body of work representative of Mary J. Blige at this period in history. There are many Mary albums to choose from and many we can easily recount the demons she struggled with at the time of their release. Mary came to us with her story, her pain - and her voice carried that to our speakers over the freshest beats. She was real, tangible. But around Mary, we noticed that "The Voice" began searching, looking for something different - a change from the heartache and pain - a sort of salvation. And over this journey, we listened, we waited...she was still searching...finally THE BREAKTHROUGH.

Rarely are we able to witness someone's life elvove before our eyes or better yet through our ears, but with Mary we have. This is truly art.

But beyond my own symbology of the The Breakthrough, are the tracks that make this work fresh-to-death...My personal favorites (in this order):

1. Be Without You
2. One with U2
3. I Found My Everything Raphael Saadiq
4. Ain't Real Loce
5. Enough Cryin
6. Alone
7. Can't Hold a Good Woman Down
8. Noone Will Do
9. Take Me As I Am
10. Can't Hide From Love

The production is flawless and Mary's voice is like I've never heard it. Not only is this album classic in my opinion, but, when I listen to it I feel like I am doing my homework because this album embodies everything that I want to be.

The critics say she's too damn happy and that she's "passionless" I beg to differ - they must be listening to a different record (or unless you start with the one Will.I.AM. track - dope producer, but only when you don't let him say nuffin')

*What is your opinion on The Breakthrough? Leave it in the comments.*


Blogger Jaimie said...

I love Mary. I'm glad her new album is good. I've only heard one song, and I did like it.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Rell said...

I think it's a solid CD. I was a little disappointed because I think the first three songs I heard where the best three songs on the album.

That caused a little bit of a letdown but a good album none the less...

3:03 PM  
Anonymous roomie :D said...

i LOVE her.

"cant hold a good woman down" is my FAV.

too much to say about mary...

8:07 PM  
Blogger Elle B. said...

yeah, that's a great song too, Roomie...

Rell which of the three songs did you think were the best? I am curious...

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i liked the cd but i didnt think it was amazing...but sometimes cds grow on me so ima listen again...i love "without you" though and i like "can't hold a good woman down" and i think i liked your number 2 and 3 too but ill listen again and give you an update...i do love mary j though...she's a breath of fresh air....thats what people will be saying about you lauren!! hehe


3:51 PM  

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