My Life (Mary J. Blige album)
|Studio album by Mary J. Blige|
|Released||November 29, 1994|
|Producer||Sean "Puffy" Combs (exec.), Chucky Thompson, Nashiem Myrick, Mr. Dalvin, Herb Middleton, Prince Charles Alexander, Poke|
|Mary J. Blige chronology|
|Singles from My Life|
My Life is the second studio album by American R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige, released on November 29, 1994, by Uptown/MCA Records. 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 Sean Combs aka Puffy for his newly founded label, Bad Boy Entertainment, which was at the time backed by Arista Records. Along with Blige, Puffy also helped invent hip hop soul.
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 1996, 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. 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, in 2003, the album was ranked number 279 on Rolling Stone magazine's the 500 greatest albums of all time, and in 2006, it was included in Time's 100 greatest albums of all-time list.
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. Producer Chucky Thompson was brought in and had originally been contracted to produce one song and an interlude for the project. 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. Blige loved the one song Thompson produced for her, which made Combs change the direction of the album.
Combs called recording engineer Prince Charles Alexander out of the blue after Jodeci went to record Diary of a Mad Band. Alexander was brought in at the end of the record, after working on albums by other artists on Bad Boy Entertainment, such as Total, The Notorious B.I.G. and 112. In the middle of recording My Life, Combs suggested covering Rose Royce's 1977 hit "I'm Going Down", which he wanted Alexander to handle the session. However, the two butted heads over production credit issues, as Combs wanted to give credit to himself and Thompson, although neither were present for the song's recording session. Alexander fought hard to seek production credit from Combs and the two battled it out over the phone over the issue. Combs later explained it was due to receiving a flat royalty rate for producing the majority of the songs and Alexander's production credit would have interfered with the royalty rate. To circumvent this issue, Alexander insisted on having two more sessions with Bad Boy acts. One of the other songs he produced was another Rose Royce cover - "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" for Faith Evans' 1995 debut Faith. Alexander was later called back in to do some mixing and recording.
On the song "K. Murray Interlude", it originally featured The Notorious B.I.G.. He was taken off due to the song's lyrical content, which would have forced Uptown Records to release the album with a Parental Advisory sticker. Rapper Keith Murray was the replacement, while The Notorious B.I.G.'s verse would be released as the song "Who Shot Ya".
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 "I'm Goin' Down" and "You Bring Me Joy". 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.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
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." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a three-star honorable mention, indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure." Christgau cited "Mary Jane" and "I'm Going Down" as highlights and quipped, "an around-the-way girl's recipe for happiness". 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."
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. 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.
|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, Ekundayo Paris, Nelson Pigford||Chucky Thompson (sampling), Sean "Puffy" Combs (sampling), Joel "JoJo" Hailey (vocals)||4:13|
|4.||"Marvin Interlude"||Blige, Combs, Thompson||Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs||0:36|
|5.||"I'm The Only Woman"||Blige, Combs, Thompson, Curtis Mayfield||Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs||4:30|
|6.||"K. Murray Interlude"||Keith Murray, Combs, Nasheim Myrick, Thompson, Allie Wrubel, Herb Magidson||Nashiem Myrick, Sean "Puffy" Combs||0:22|
|7.||"My Life"||Blige, Combs, Arlene DelValle, Thompson, Roy Ayers||Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs||4:17|
|8.||"You Gotta Believe"||Blige, Big Bub, Combs, Faith Evans, Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey, Thompson, Herb Middleton||Herb Middleton, Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs||5:02|
|9.||"I Never Wanna Live Without You"||Blige, Big Bub, Combs, Evans, Thompson, Middleton||Herb Middleton, Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs||6:17|
|10.||"I'm Goin' Down"||Norman Whitfield||Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Mark Ledford, Prince Charles Alexander||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, Big Bub, Gene Griffin, Timmy Gatling, Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall||Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs||4:59|
|15.||"I Love You"||Blige, Combs, Thompson, Isaac Hayes||Chucky Thompson, Sean "Puffy" Combs||4:31|
|16.||"No One Else"||Cedric Hailey, Dalvin DeGrate, Al Green, Douglas E. Davis, Ricky Walters||Mr. Dalvin||4:14|
|17.||"Be Happy"||Blige, Combs, DelValle, J.C. Olivier, Curtis Mayfield||Sean "Puffy" Combs, Poke||5:49|
|International bonus track|
|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 (replayed samples) from "All Night Long" as performed by Mary Jane Girls and "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
- "K. Murray Interlude" uses the same instrumental as The Notorious B.I.G. song "Who Shot Ya?", which contains a sample from "I'm Afraid the Masquerade is Over", as performed by David Porter
- "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 and contains re-sung lyrics from "Stay With Me" as performed by DeBarge
- "I Love You" contains a sample of "Ike's Mood" as performed by Isaac Hayes
- "No One Else" contains samples from "Free at Last" as performed by Al Green and a vocal sample from "La Di Da Di" as performed by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh
- "Be Happy" contains samples from "You're So Good To Me" as performed by Curtis Mayfield and contains a re-sung vocal sample from "I Want You" as performed by Marvin Gaye
|Canadian Albums Chart||37|
|UK Albums Chart||59|
|US Billboard 200||7|
|US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||1|
|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||France||The 1000 Best Albums of All Time||2008||862|
- List of number-one R&B albums of 1994 (U.S.)
- List of number-one R&B albums of 1995 (U.S.)
- Billboard Year-End
- Swihart, Stanton. "My Life - Mary J. Blige". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
- The Editors of Rolling Stone (October 26, 2010). The '90s: The Inside Stories from the Decade That Rocked. HarperCollins. p. 292. ISBN 0061779202.
- "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.
- Columnist. My Life Accolades. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
- Columnist. The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
- Columnist. Time's All-TIME 100 Albums. Time. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
- 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 2014-08-18.
- "Key Tracks: Mary J. Blige’s My Life". redbullmusicacademy.com. Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
- 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.
- Hopkins, Tracy (1994-11-25). "My Life Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
- "Review: My Life". NME (London): 34. January 7, 1995.
- Hoard, Christian (2004). "The Rolling Stone Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
- Christgau, Robert (2000). "Key to Icons". Robert Christgau. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- Bernstein, Jonathan (February 1995). "Spins". Spin (New York) 10 (11): 76–77. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "Database Search". CRIA. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "What's the 411? (1992)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2009-07-24.