The MF Life

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The MF Life
Studio album by Melanie Fiona
Released March 20, 2012 (2012-03-20)
Recorded 2011–12
Genre R&B[1]
Length 52:25
Label SRC, Universal Republic
Producer No I.D., Salaam Remi, Andrea Martin, Rico Love, Earl Hood, Eric Goudy II, Jack Splash, Los Da Mystro, Jay Fenix, Infinity, Antario "Tario" Holmes, Espionage, Sham & Motesart, T-Pain, Supa Dups, Soundz
Melanie Fiona chronology
The Bridge
(2009)
The MF Life
(2012)
Singles from The MF Life
  1. "Gone and Never Coming Back"
    Released: January 11, 2011 (2011-01-11)
  2. "4 AM"
    Released: September 6, 2011 (2011-09-06)
  3. "This Time"
    Released: February 20, 2012 (2012-02-20)

The MF Life is the second studio album of Canadian recording artist Melanie Fiona, released March 20, 2012, on SRC Records and Universal Republic Records. Production was handled by several record producers, including No I.D., Salaam Remi, Andrea Martin, Rico Love, Los Da Mystro and T-Pain, among others. Its music expands on the classicist R&B influences of Fiona's 2009 debut album, The Bridge, and its songs deal with themes of aggrievement, longing, and romantic triumph.

The album debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, selling 34,000 copies in its first week. It produced three singles, including the R&B hit "4 AM". Upon its release, The MF Life received generally positive reviews from music critics, who commended its production, songwriting and Fiona's vocals. Fiona promoted it with a national tour throughout March 2012. As of May 2012, the album has sold 69,500 copies in the United States.

Background and recording[edit]

After the shutdown of Universal Motown Records, Fiona was transferred to Universal Republic Records.[2] In an interview with Gary Graff, she said that the delay in the album's release allowed her to reach out to rappers J.Cole and Nas to contribute to the songs "This Time" and "Running", respectively.[2]

Recording sessions for the album took place at Glenwood Place Studios in Burbank, 4220 Feng Shui Studios in Los Angeles, Circle House Studios, The Hit Factory Criteria, and Body Music in Miami, Chevy Shack and Losta Studios in Atlanta, Summit Sound in New York, and The Armoury Vault in Toronto, Canada.[3]

In a press release, Fiona explained the album's title, "the ‘MF’ in the album title represents my initials, but it also gets at the many facets of myself as an artist and a young woman. It can be viewed as the ‘Mighty Fine Life’ in times of triumph and success, but also the ‘Mother-F-ing Life’ when I’m dealing with frustration or misfortune. I celebrate both. I feel it would be dishonest if everything was all about glitz and glamour. It’s about the balance of life, the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, all of that."[4]

Composition[edit]

Expanding on the classicist R&B influences of Fiona's debut,[5] The MF Life also incorporates elements of soul and rock music.[6] Songs such as "L.O.V.E." and "Watch Me Work" are styled in soul;[7][8] the guitar-laden "Break Down These Walls" and "Wrong Side of a Love Song" have rock elements.[7][9] "4 AM" draws on the hazy synth of Drake's "Marvins Room" and the emotional aesthetic of Alicia Keys' "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart".[10]

The album's lyrics deal with themes of longing, aggrievement,[6][9] and romantic triumph.[8] Music writers have noted Fiona's singing voice on the album as slightly husky and emotive.[6][8][9]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album's lead single, "Gone and Never Coming Back", peaked at number 37 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[11] The second single, "4 AM", was sent to urban radio stations on August 30, 2011.[12] It peaked at number eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100.[13]

Originally scheduled for a 2011 release, The MF Life was released on March 20, 2012, on SRC and Universal Republic.[2][14] Fiona promoted the album with a national tour throughout March 2012.[15] It included dates at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and the Austin Urban Music Festival in Texas.[2]

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number seven on the US Billboard 200, selling 34,000 copies in its first week.[16] It sold 16,200 copies in its second week on the chart.[17] By May 2012, the album had sold 69,500 copies in the United States.[18]

In Switzerland, The MF Life charted for eight weeks and peaked at number 23.[19] It also charted at number 32 on the United Kingdom's R&B Albums Chart.[20]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[6]
The Boston Globe favorable[7]
Entertainment Weekly A–[21]
Fact 3/5 stars[10]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[8]
The New York Times favorable[9]
Now 2/5[22]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[23]
USA Today 3/4 stars[1]
The Washington Post favorable[5]

Upon its release, The MF Life received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 75, based on nine reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[24] Allmusic editor Andy Kellman found Fiona "remarkably versatile when it comes to modes of expression" and stated, "The more beneficial mix of songwriting and production collaborators ... helps make The MF Life superior to the debut in every way."[6] Entertainment Weekly gave The MF Life an A– rating and stated, "Slow-burning pathos remain her strongest suit."[21] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times complimented its musical backdrops as "sturdy" and stated, "Though this album lacks some of the intensity of her debut ... it still showcases Ms. Fiona ably."[9] Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe viewed the album as "a more fully realized and personal set of songs than her debut", writing that "she charts the vicissitudes of love with searing conviction and style ... she ratchets up the intensity, as she co-writes nearly all of the songs and often delivers them with stunning clarity and power."[7] Rolling Stone writer Maura Johnston called her "multidimensional" and stated, "Big-name guests ... accentuate Fiona's strengths instead of overshadowing them, a testament to her supreme confidence."[23]

In a mixed review, Kevin Ritchie of Now felt that the album is "closer to a traditional multi-producer record featuring a checklist of styles ... that showcase her technical precision as a singer but reluctance to colour outside the lines."[22] Los Angeles Times writer Ernest Hardy viewed that Fiona's "lapses into hard, hyper-emotive singing" make the content's emotion seem ingenuine and stated, "The songs are a bit stronger this time around, but few offer much in the way of great lyrics or real insight".[8] Alex Macpherson of Fact called the album "occasionally transcendent" and commented that it "aims more to be a well-rounded work than a visionary one, and in that respect it succeeds admirably."[10] Although he found the album "full of cads and heartbreaks", Gary Graff of Billboard viewed it as an improvement over Fiona's debut and commented that she "tears into [the songs] with righteous relish".[25]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "This Time" (featuring J. Cole) Ernest Wilson, Johnta Austin, Steve Wyreman, Kevin Randolph, Jermaine Cole No I.D. 3:48
2. "4 AM"   Richard Butler, Melanie Hallim, Earl Hood, Eric Goudy II Rico Love, Earl Hood, Eric Goudy II 4:50
3. "Break Down These Walls"   E. WIlson, J. Austin, S. Wyreman, K. Randolph No I.D. 4:09
4. "I Been That Girl"   Aubrey Drake Graham, Tyler Williams T-Minus 2:53
5. "Wrong Side of a Love Song"   M. Hallim, M. Kahane, G. Soule Jack Splash 4:28
6. "Running" (featuring Nas) Melanie Hallim, Nasir Jones, Salaam Remi Gibbs Salaam Remi 5:29
7. "Change the Record" (featuring B.o.B) C. McKinney, Andrea Martin, M. Hallim, Bobby Simmons Los Da Mystro 4:05
8. "Gone and Never Coming Back"   A. Martin, R. Littlejohn Jr. Jay Fenix & Andrea Martin 3:45
9. "Bones"   M. Kahane, P. Faith, A. Merrit Jack Splash 3:53
10. "Watch Me Work"   J. Suecof, A. Holmes, L. Fields, M. Hallim, T. Reyes, N. Myricks Infinity, DayThree_Tario 3:25
11. "Can’t Say I Never Loved You"   A. Martin, E. Lind, A. Gjorklund Espionage 3:47
12. "L.O.V.E." (duet with John Legend) E. Wilson, John Stephens, M. Hallim, S. Wyreman, K. Randolph No I.D. 3:55
13. "6 AM" (featuring T-Pain) Faheem Najm, Jon A. Gordon (The Gordon Brothers), Michael A. Gordon (The Gordon Brothers), D. Cook T-Pain 4:13

Personnel[edit]

Credits for The MF Life adapted from liner notes.[26]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Swiss Albums Chart[19] 23
UK R&B Albums Chart[20] 32
US Billboard 200[16] 7
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[27] 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jones, Steve (March 20, 2012). "Listen Up: Esperanza Spalding, Melanie Fiona, more". USA Today (Gannett Company). Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Graff, Gary (March 14, 2012). "Melanie Fiona Used 'MF Life' Delay To Bring In Nas, Drake, J. Cole". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Melanie Fiona – MF Life CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Melanie Fiona :: Bio". Universal Republic. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Godfrey, Sarah (March 19, 2012). "Review: Melanie Fiona takes on new genres in ‘The MF Life’". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Kellman, Andy. "The MF Life – Melanie Fiona". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Review. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d Capobianco, Ken (March 17, 2012). "Melanie Fiona, ‘The MF Life’". The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company). Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Hardy, Ernest (March 19, 2012). "Album review: Melanie Fiona's 'The MF Life'". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Caramanica, Jon (March 20, 2012). "Albums From Wiz Khalifa, Melanie Fiona and Lost in the Trees". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. C3. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c Macpherson, Alex (April 25, 2012). "Melanie Fiona: The MF Life". Fact (The Vinyl Factory). Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Gone and Never Coming Back – Melanie Fiona". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Melanie Fiona". All Access Music Group. February 27, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Melanie Fiona Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Melanie Fiona Reveals Release Date, Cover Art For "The MF Life"". Rap-Up.com. Rap-Up. February 9, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  15. ^ "MELANIE FIONA's "THE MF LIFE" in Stores Today" (Press release). New York: Business Wire. March 20, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (March 28, 2012). "'Hunger Games' Soundtrack Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  17. ^ Langhorne, Cyrus (April 4, 2012). "Madonna Strips Down At No. 1, Drake Falls From Top 20, E-40, DJ Premier & Freddie Foxxx Invade The Chart". SOHH. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  18. ^ Langhorne, Cyrus (April 18, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Falls From No. 1, Monica Brings Life To Top 5, Trip Lee Invades The Chart". SOHH. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "Melanie Fiona – The MF Life". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "2012-03-31 Top 40 R&B Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "The MF Life review – Melanie Fiona Review". Entertainment Weekly (1199): 74. March 23, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Ritchie, Kevin (April 26, 2012). "Melanie Fiona – The MF Life". Now 31 (35) (Toronto). Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b Johnston, Maura (April 13, 2012). "The MF Life". Rolling Stone (Jann S. Wenner). Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  24. ^ "The MF Life Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  25. ^ Graff, Gary (April 1, 2012). "Album Review: Melanie Fiona, 'The MF Life'". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  26. ^ The MF Life (CD liner). Melanie Fiona. Universal Republic Records. B0016719-02. 
  27. ^ "Melanie Fiona Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 

External links[edit]