Blige follows up her classic 2004 album My Life.
Mary J Blige: My Life II: The Journey Continues
My Life II: The Journey Continues
It can be argued that no other modern R&B female singer can sing about the trials and tribulations of life quite as convincingly as Blige, and this album proves that this ability has only ripened with age.
While the pain has certainly not disappeared from her life, as she explains on the album's intro, she now understands "how to navigate it".
With her last two records failing to leave a lasting impression, this album finally sees her dusting off that queen of R&B crown to provide something to delight long-time fans as well as satisfy the contemporary crowd. Guest rap verses from Drake, Rick Ross and Busta Rhymes give the album a hip-hop sensibility that recalls 1990's-era Blige, while also keeping it refreshingly up to date.
The collaboration with Beyoncé, How to Love a Woman, is one of the album's standout tracks, seeing the divas voices complement and not compete with each other as they educate men on the art of romance.
Vocally, Blige is as strong as ever. She delivers the heartfelt ballads that we always expect from her with songs such as Empty Prayers, The Living Proof and Need Someone, all of which showcase her impeccable vocal range and unrivalled ability to emote through her singing.
More of an extension rather than a sequel to her classic 1994 sophomore album My Life, Blige's 10th album will undoubtedly attract comparisons to her most critically acclaimed work. However, similarity in title aside, her latest album is a solid effort all on its own.