None other than the queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige will be performing at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels this Sunday (June 28). When I first heard the news earlier this year, I knew I had to be there. I spent my teenage years listening to this woman’s beautiful voice and blasting her songs in my room and in the car. Eventually even my mom became a fan.
Most people are familiar with MJB‘s legendary R&B tracks such as Family Affair, No More Drama and Be Without You but as Busta Rhymes once put it: “Mary J. Blige is the queen of our music.” She definitely has the credentials to back it up as she has joined forces with plenty of rappers throughout her multi-platinum career and even inspired some emcees to launch a solo career. In a recent interview with HipHopDX Wu-Tang member Method Man stated that he owes MJB his solo career. To get you guys warmed up for Sunday’s show we decided to provide you with the legendary singer’s five best hip hop collaborations.
Mary J. Blige – What’s The 411 Ft. Grand Puba
It all started in the summer of 1982. This influential cut from Mary‘s debut of the same name showcased her groundbreaking fusion of hip hop and soul and was the first piece of evidence that she was made to be the superstar she is: Not only does former Brand Nubian member Grand Puba rhyme on the slinky bass-driven track, but the queen herself spits a few bars too. The duo even performed the cut live in a now classic Yo! MTV Raps clip. Mary got bars, yo!
Common – Come Close Ft. Mary J. Blige
The Neptunes geniusly sampled A Tribe Called Quest‘s classic Bonita Applebum on this 2002 duet while Common and Mary delivered a very honest back-and-forth dialogue on Come Close, showcasing the power that a love story told by two can have. FYI: if you’re looking for real love, you should check out this video.
Method Man – I’ll Be There For You (You’re All I Need To Get By) Ft. Mary J. Blige
Released in 1995, this Method Man/Mary J collaboration is the epitome of 90s hip-hop. The grimy drums, smooth melodies, a classic New York flow and a smooth touch added by MJB. It doesn’t get any better. Ask Method Man, the song landed him his first and only Grammy.
Talib Kweli – I Try Ft. Mary J. Blige
Before Kanye West became Yeezus he was the man providing the instrumentals for some of the biggest lyricists in hip hop, most notably Jay Z and Talib Kweli. The latter might not have a lot of mainstream appeal, but there’s no denying that he has been consistently pushing out great records. So when he and Kanye teamed up with Mary J. Blige on the 2004 record I Try, all eyes were on them. The result is a Kweli classic as well as one of Kanye’s most underrated productions.
Ludacris – Runaway Love Ft. Mary J. Blige
If you had told me that the man behind Move Bitch was going to create the Brenda’s Got a Baby of the new millennium, I would have probably called you ludicrous (pun intended). Yet in 2006 that’s exactly what Ludacris did with Runaway Love which features a haunting hook sung by Mary. The contrast between the disturbing imagery of the verses and the serene optimism of the chorus is what makes this a truly compelling collaboration and one of my personal favorites.