My Life (Mary J. Blige album)

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My Life
Studio album by Mary J. Blige
Released November 29, 1994 (1994-11-29)
Recorded 1993 - 1994
Genre Hip hop soul[1]
Length 64:59
Label Uptown
Producer Sean "Puffy" Combs (Executive), The Hitmen (Chucky Thompson & Nashiem Myrick), Poke, Mr. Dalvin
Mary J. Blige chronology
What's the 411? Remix
(1992)
My Life
(1994)
Share My World
(1997)
Singles from My Life
  1. "Be Happy"
    Released: October 26, 1994
  2. "I'm Goin' Down"
    Released: January 18, 1995
  3. "Mary Jane (All Night Long)"
    Released: February 8, 1995
  4. "You Bring Me Joy/I Love You"
    Released: May 28, 1995
  5. "My Life"
    Released: June 29, 1995

My Life is the second studio album by American R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige, released on November 29, 1994, by Uptown Records.[2] Many of the topics on My Life deal with clinical depression, Blige's battling with both drugs and alcohol, as well as being in an abusive relationship. Similar to her debut album What's the 411?, My Life features vast production from Puff Daddy, who provided a hip hop soul sound.

Considered to be her breakthrough album, My Life became Mary J. Blige's second album to reach the top ten of the Billboard 200 charts, peaking at number seven, and debuting at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for eight weeks. In 1995, the album was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 38th Grammy Awards, while in December of the same year, the album was certified 3x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of three million copies in the United States.[2] It also won the 1995 Billboard Music Award for Top R&B Album.

In 2002, Blender ranked My Life number 57 on their 100 greatest American albums of all time list,[3] in 2003, the album was ranked number 279 on Rolling Stone magazine's the 500 greatest albums of all time,[4] and in 2006, it was included in Time's 100 greatest albums of all time list.[5]

Background[edit]

Following the success of her debut album, What's the 411?, and a remixed version in 1993, Blige went into the recording studio in the winter of 1993 to record her second album, My Life.[6] Producer Chucky Thompson was brought in and had originally been contracted to produce one song and an interlude for the project.[7] He ended up being a last minute replacement as the producers Blige worked with previously on What's the 411? demanded more money when the album was certified triple platinum.[8] Blige loved the one song Thompson produced for her, which made Combs change the direction of the album.[9]

The album was a breakthrough for Blige, who at this point was in a clinical depression, battling both drugs and alcohol- as well as being in an abusive relationship with K-Ci Hailey- which was reported in several tabloids. In this period, Blige would once again dominate the charts with her singles: the Top 40 hit "Be Happy", a cover version of Rose Royce's 1977 hit "I'm Goin' Down", and "Mary Jane (All Night Long)", an elucidation of the Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long", Rick James's "Mary Jane", and Teddy Pendergrass's hit "Close the Door". The album uses primary soul samples from R&B musicians such as Curtis Mayfield, Roy Ayers, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Rick James, and his protégés, the Mary Jane Girls.

Other memorable songs include a cover version of Carole King's hit single "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "You Bring Me Joy" (which samples "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me" by Barry White) and "My Life," alongside an official remix version of the song "Be With You", which features Lauryn Hill rapping on the introduction and closing verses. (In 1998, Lauryn Hill would duet with Blige on the hip hop soul ballad "I Used to Love Him" on Hill's album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.)

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau (3-star Honorable Mention)[11]
Entertainment Weekly (B)[12]
NME (7/10)[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[14]

NME wrote that the beats "reign supreme" and commended Blige for "telling her audience she grew up the same way they did, listened to the same things, was influenced by the same situations."[13] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a three-star honorable mention,[11] indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure."[15] Christgau cited "Mary Jane" and "I'm Going Down" as highlights and quipped, "an around-the-way girl's recipe for happiness".[11] In a mixed review, Jonathan Bernstein of Spin found most of the songs too "ordinary" and felt that Blige's compositions "give her space to stretch out and emote, but for all the melody they possess they might as well be breathing exercises."[16]

Commercial performance[edit]

In its first week sales, My Life debuted at number seven on the US Billboard 200 and debuted on the top spot of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for an unprecedented eight weeks. The album sold 231,000 copies its first week. It ultimately spent 46 weeks on the Billboard 200 and 84 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album also charted in Canada peaking at number thirty-seven, and at number fifty-nine on the UK Albums Chart.[17] On December 13, 1995, My Life was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of three million copies in the United States.[2]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Intro"   Mary J. Blige, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Chucky Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 1:04
2. "Mary Jane (All Night Long)"   Blige, Combs, Rick James, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 4:39
3. "You Bring Me Joy"   Blige, Combs, Joel "JoJo" Hailey, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 4:13
4. "Marvin Interlude"   Blige, Combs, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 0:36
5. "I'm The Only Woman"   Blige, Combs, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 4:30
6. "K. Murray Interlude"   Keith Murray, Combs, Nasheim Myrick, Thompson Nashiem Myrick, Chucky Thompson 0:22
7. "My Life"   Blige, Combs, Arlene DelValle, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 4:17
8. "You Gotta Believe"   Blige, Big Bub, Combs, Faith Evans, Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey, Thompson Herb Middleton, Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 5:02
9. "I Never Wanna Live Without You"   Blige, Big Bub, Combs, Evans, Thompson Herb Middleton, Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 6:17
10. "I'm Goin' Down"   Norman Whitfield Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 3:42
11. "My Life Interlude"   Blige, Big Bub, Combs, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 1:15
12. "Be With You"   Blige, Combs, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 4:26
13. "Mary's Joint"   Blige, Combs, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 5:02
14. "Don't Go"   Blige, Combs, Evans, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 4:59
15. "I Love You"   Blige, Combs, Thompson Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs 4:31
16. "No One Else"   Dalvin DeGrate, C. Hailey Mr. Dalvin 4:14
17. "Be Happy"   Blige, Combs, DelValle, J.C. Olivier Sean "Puffy" Combs, Poke 5:49
International bonus track
No. Title Writer(s) Producer Length
18. "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"   Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Jerry Wexler James Mtume 2:56
Sample credits
  • "Mary Jane (All Night Long)" contains interpolations from "All Night Long" as performed by Mary Jane Girls; "Close the Door" as performed by Teddy Pendergrass
  • "You Bring Me Joy" contains a sample of "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me" as performed by Barry White
  • "I'm The Only Woman" contains a sample of "Give Me Your Love" as performed by Curtis Mayfield; Contains re-sung lyrics from "For the Love of Money" as performed by The O'Jays
  • "K. Murray Interlude" contains a portion of "Who Shot Ya" as performed by The Notorious B.I.G.
  • "My Life" contains a sample "Everybody Loves The Sunshine" as performed by Roy Ayers
  • "Don't Go" contains a sample of "Goodbye Love" as performed by Guy; Contains re-sung lyrics from "Stay with Me" by DeBarge; "Brazilian Rhyme (Beijo)" by Earth, Wind & Fire, and contains an interpolation of "Speak to My Heart" by the New York Restoration Choir featuring Donnie McClurkin
  • "I Love You" samples "Ike's Mood" by Isaac Hayes and "Hollywood's World" by DJ Hollywood
  • "No One Else" samples "Free at Last" by Al Green and "La Di Da Di" by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh
  • "Be Happy" samples "You're So Good To Me" by Curtis Mayfield and contains an interpolation of "I Want You" by Marvin Gaye
  • "Be Happy (Remix)" samples "Money (Dollar Bill Ya'll)" by Jimmy Spicer
  • "Be With You" samples "High Powered" by Dr. Dre and an interpolation of "Hey Love" by The Delfonics.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1994-95) Peak
position
Canadian Albums Chart[18] 37
UK Albums Chart[17] 59
US Billboard 200[19] 7
US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[20] 1

Accolades[edit]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Blender United States The 100 Greatest American Albums of All time 2002 57
Entertainment Weekly The 100 Best Albums from 1983 to 2008 2008 70
Rolling Stone 50 Essential Female Albums 2002 17
Rolling Stone The 100 Greatest Albums of the 90s 2010 63
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 279
Rolling Stone The Essential Recordings of the 90s 1999 *
Time Top 100 Albums of All Time 2006 *
Vibe 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century 1999 *
Vibe 150 Albums That Define the Vibe Era (1992–2007) 2007 *
The Rough Guide Soul: 100 Essential CDs 2000 *
The New Nation United Kingdom Top 100 Albums by Black Artists 38
FNAC [disambiguation needed] France The 1000 Best Albums of All Time 2008 862

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Editors of Rolling Stone (October 26, 2010). The '90s: The Inside Stories from the Decade That Rocked. HarperCollins. p. 292. ISBN 0061779202. 
  2. ^ a b c "American album certifications – Mary J. Blige – My Life". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ Columnist. My Life Accolades. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  4. ^ Columnist. The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  5. ^ Columnist. Time's All-TIME 100 Albums. Time. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  6. ^ Williams, Chris. "Mary J. Blige’s My Life LP (1994) revisited with co-producer Chucky Thompson | Return To The Classics". soulculture.com. Soul Culture. Retrieved 8/18/2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ Williams, Chris. "Mary J. Blige’s My Life LP (1994) revisited with co-producer Chucky Thompson | Return To The Classics". soulculture.com. Soul Culture. Retrieved 8/18/2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ Williams, Chris. "Mary J. Blige’s My Life LP (1994) revisited with co-producer Chucky Thompson | Return To The Classics". soulculture.com. Soul Culture. Retrieved 8/18/2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. ^ Williams, Chris. "Mary J. Blige’s My Life LP (1994) revisited with co-producer Chucky Thompson | Return To The Classics". soulculture.com. Soul Culture. Retrieved 8/18/2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ Swihart, Stanton. "My Life - Mary J. Blige". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  11. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (January 17, 1995). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Christgau's three-star honorable mention rating is clarified at his website. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ Hopkins, Tracy (1994-11-25). "My Life Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  13. ^ a b "Review: My Life". NME (London): 34. January 7, 1995. 
  14. ^ Hoard, Christian (2004). "The Rolling Stone Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Key to Icons". Robert Christgau. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  16. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (February 1995). "Spins". Spin (New York) 10 (11): 76–77. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b [1]
  18. ^ "Database Search". CRIA. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ "What's the 411? (1992)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 

External links[edit]