Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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My Life

Mary J. Blige


Gospel, grace, and grit fuel the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s soul-baring masterpiece.

With Mary J. Blige’s first album, What’s the 411?, the emerging “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” had imbued diaristic R&B with a youthful hip-hop sensibility. For the follow-up, 1994’s career-defining My Life, the 23-year-old got even more personal, drawing on her depression, struggles with drugs and alcohol, experiences with domestic violence and heartbreak, and the spiritual fortitude that carried her through it. All this while trying to process her breakneck trajectory from a Yonkers housing project to worldwide fame.

Chucky Thompson, scion of Bad Boy Records’ Hitmen production team, laced the beats with funk samples and street hits, while Blige added gospel-informed grace and grit. This aesthetic peaked on the sublime “My Life,” where she brings melancholy and reserved hope to a sample of Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” But the album found its mission statement in its final track: “All I really want is to be happy,” Blige sang over a slap bass nabbed from Curtis Mayfield’s “You're So Good to Me.” “I don’t wanna have to worry about nothin’ no more.”

“I was trying to heal. I was going through hell. And when I released the album, it started a movement.”

Mary J. Blige