My Life (Mary J. Blige album)

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My Life
Mary J Blige album cover My Life.jpg
Studio album by Mary J. Blige
Released November 29, 1994 (1994-11-29)
Recorded 1993–1994
Genre
Length 64:59
Label Uptown
Producer Sean "Puffy" Combs (exec.), Chucky Thompson, Nashiem Myrick, Mr. Dalvin, Herb Middleton, Prince Charles Alexander, Poke
Mary J. Blige chronology
What's the 411? Remix
(1993)
My Life
(1994)
Share My World
(1997)
Singles from My Life
  1. "Be Happy"
    Released: October 14, 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.[3] 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 for his newly founded label, Bad Boy Entertainment, which was at the time backed by Arista Records. .

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.[3] It also won the 1995 Billboard Music Award for Top R&B Album.

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.[4] Producer Chucky Thompson was brought in and had originally been contracted to produce one song and an interlude for the project.[4] 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.[4] Blige loved the one song Thompson produced for her, which made Combs change the direction of the album.[4]

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.[5] 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.[5] Alexander fought hard to seek production credit from Combs and the two battled it out over the phone over the issue.[5] 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.[5] 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.[5] 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.[5] Rapper Keith Murray was the replacement, while The Notorious B.I.G.'s verse would be released as the song "Who Shot Ya".[5]

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,[5] 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.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Consumer Guide (3-star Honorable Mention)[6]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[7]
Entertainment Weekly B[8]
Los Angeles Times 1.5/4 stars[9]
MusicHound R&B 2.5/5[10]
NME 7/10[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[12]

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."[11] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau gave it a three-star honorable mention, indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure". He cited "Mary Jane" and "I'm Going Down" as highlights while calling the album "an around-the-way girl's recipe for happiness".[6] 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."[13] Connie Johnson was more critical in the Los Angeles Times, finding it "drab" and devoid of attitude from Blige, who "doesn't add her own hard-core signature to any significant degree".[9]

In 2002, My Life was ranked number 57 on Blender's list of the 100 greatest American albums of all-time.[14] The following year, Rolling Stone placed it at number 279 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[15] and in 2006, the record was included in Time's 100 greatest albums of all-time list.[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.[3]

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, 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
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 (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

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1994–95) Peak
position
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[18] 37
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[19] 69
UK Albums (OCC)[20] 59
US Billboard 200[21] 7
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[22] 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 France The 1000 Best Albums of All Time 2008 862

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Swihart, Stanton. "My Life - Mary J. Blige". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  2. ^ The Editors of Rolling Stone (October 26, 2010). The '90s: The Inside Stories from the Decade That Rocked. HarperCollins. p. 292. ISBN 0061779202. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ a b c d 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. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Key Tracks: Mary J. Blige's My Life". redbullmusicacademy.com. Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 2015-12-28. 
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2000). Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan. pp. xvi, 31. ISBN 0312245602. 
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Marvin Gaye". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958. 
  8. ^ Hopkins, Tracy (1994-11-25). "My Life Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  9. ^ a b Johnson, Connie (December 25, 1994). "Forget '411,' Mary J., Better Call 911". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  10. ^ Graff, Gary; du Lac, Josh Freedom; McFarlin, Jim, eds. (1998). "Mary J. Blige". MusicHound R&B: The Essential Album Guide. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 1578590264. 
  11. ^ a b "Review: My Life". NME. London: 34. January 7, 1995. 
  12. ^ Moon, Tom (2004). "Mary J. Blige". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. pp. 83–4. ISBN 0743201698. 
  13. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (February 1995). "Spins". Spin. New York. 10 (11): 76–77. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  14. ^ Columnist. My Life Accolades. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  15. ^ Columnist. The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  16. ^ Columnist. Time's All-TIME 100 Albums. Time. Retrieved on 2010-03-13.
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue {{{chartid}}}." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  19. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Mary J. Blige – My Life" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  20. ^ "Mary J. Blige | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  21. ^ "Mary J. Blige – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Mary J. Blige. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  22. ^ "Mary J. Blige – Chart history" Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for Mary J. Blige. Retrieved 2016-09-03.

External links[edit]