The Breakthrough

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For other uses, see Breakthrough (disambiguation).
The Breakthrough
Mary J Blige - The Breakthrough album cover.jpg
Studio album by Mary J. Blige
Released December 20, 2005
Recorded 2004–2005
Length 72:59
Label Geffen
Producer Mary J. Blige (exec.), 9th Wonder, Bryan-Michael Cox, Cool & Dre, Dre & Vidal, D'Mile, Ron Fair, Rich Harrison, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Rodney Jerkins, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Raphael Saadiq, Chucky Thompson,, Young Smoke, Infinity, Tal Herzberg, Davel "Bo" McKenzie, Bobby Ross Avila, Iz Avila, Jake & The Phatman
Mary J. Blige chronology
Love & Life
The Breakthrough
Growing Pains
Singles from The Breakthrough
  1. "MJB da MVP"
    Released: April 18, 2005
  2. "Be Without You"
    Released: September 15, 2005
  3. "Enough Cryin'"
    Released: March 2, 2006
  4. "One"
    Released: April 3, 2006
  5. "Take Me as I Am"
    Released: August 17, 2006

The Breakthrough is the seventh studio album by American R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige. It was released on December 20, 2005, by Geffen Records. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, with the opening week of 729,000 units in the United States, becoming her highest first week sales of her career and the second-highest first-week sales by a female R&B artist; only behind Alicia Keys' As I Am (2007).

Upon its release, The Breakthrough received positive reviews from most music critics. The album was certified three-time platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), selling over seven million copies worldwide.


"Be Without You" was released as the album's lead single on September 15, 2005. It was produced by Bryan-Michael Cox, co-produced by Young Smoke. The song peaking at number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

"One" was released as the album's second single on April 3, 2006. The song features guest vocalist by U2, while the production was handled by Ron Fair, co-produced by Tal Herzberg. In the United Kingdom, the song gave Mary her biggest hit to date by peaking at number 2 on the Top 40.

"Enough Cryin'" was released as the album's third single on March 2, 2006. The song has peaked at number 32 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It fared particularly well on the R&B charts, hitting at number 2 on US Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song was initially going to be featuring by an American female rapper Foxy Brown, but then Mary has decided to re-record a verse with herself, because of Brown's sudden hearing loss. This would launched the Mary's rapping alter-ego, named "Brook Lynn", who also appeared on other tracks (e.g. the remix of Busta Rhymes's "Touch It").

"Take Me as I Am" was released as the album's fourth single on August 17, 2006. It was produced by Infinity and Ron Fair. The song has reached at number 3 on the US Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

Other charting songs[edit]

The song "MJB Da MVP" was released as a radio only single, prior to the release of "Be Without You". The song features the voice of American rapper 50 Cent, as part of the chorus. Due to strong airplay, the song charted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 75, before the first official single, "Be Without You" was released from "The Breakthrough". Yet another song, "Ain't Really Love", has reached at number 73 on US Billboards Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, although it did not released as a single.[1]


Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on both the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 729,000 copies, making it the fifth largest first-week sales for a female artist and the fourth largest debut of 2005. It also marked the largest first-week sales for a female R&B artist til back in November 2007, when Alicia Keys' album As I Am has sold 742,400 copies, a mere more than 13,400 copies in the United States.

The album has been certified three-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of more than 3,000,000 copies in the United States.[2] It has been proclaimed as her comeback album (after the disappointment of Love & Life). The album has been showing signs of longevity, remaining in the top five of the Billboard 200 for 11 consecutive weeks (including 2 weeks at number 1). In Australia, the album went gold on the ARIA charts.

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Entertainment Weekly B+[4]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[5]
The Independent 4/5 stars[6]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[7]
The New York Times favorable[8]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[9]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[10]
Spin 5/10[11]
The Village Voice mixed[12]

The Breakthrough received generally positive reviews from music critics.[13] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 76, based on 20 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[13] Allmusic editor Andy Kellman gave it four-and-a-half out of five stars and commented that "Beat for beat, the album features the best round of productions Blige has been handed since the mid-'90s".[3] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne noted a return of "drama to her music" and wrote that "its messy sprawl of conflicted emotions feels true to her fierce, prickly personality (not to mention life itself)".[4] Jon Pareles of The New York Times complimented its themes of "tribulations and true love" and stated "Blige brings together hip-hop realism and soul's higher aspirations, hip-hop's digitized crispness and soul's slow-building testimonies".[8] Rolling Stone writer Barry Walters noted its "particularly classy material" and commented that "what ultimately differentiates Blige's seventh studio album from previous discs is that its ballads truly matter".[9] Stylus Magazine's Thomas Inskeep viewed it as a "return to form" for Blige, dubbing it her "finest full-length since '99's Mary".[14]

Tom Breihan of Spin commented for "nearly all of its tracks sound-like odes to her new husband" and criticized its production, writing that "too often, Blige’s voice doesn’t get the space it needs to cut loose with emotion [...] Because Blige never quite connects with the awkwardly programmed drums and cluttered synthetic arrangements of would-be club jams like 'Can’t Hide From Luv' and 'Gonna Breakthrough,' the songs’ chin-up aphorisms ring false".[11] Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani described the album as "the epitome of formulaic, giving you the feeling that you've heard this all before", and stated "it sports the kind of yucky, literal sentiment [...] that, however true it may be, should not be put to tape".[10] Jason King of The Village Voice viewed that the album "improves on 2003's Diddy-helmed misfire Love & Life but lacks the character of 1999's eclectic Mary", adding that "Mary's jones for hermetic, clinically slick production values doesn't complement her soul-baring aura".[12] Blender stated "Her ardent love songs ultimately come off not as love songs but standard ache-and-pain Mary tracks."[13] BBC Online's Matilda Egere-Cooper noted the album production's "ahigh quality", but viewed that it lacks the "attitude" of Blige's previous work.[15]

Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian expressed a mixed response to Blige "celebrating no more drama in her life", but complimented its "compellingly dark, percussive setting" and "the stunning power of [Blige's] voice", writing that "The lyrics may be wet, but she sings with cool conviction, not wasting a note".[5] Despite viewing many of its songs as overlong, Los Angeles Times writer Natalie Nichols commended its producers for "adeptly weaving beats and live instruments, vocals and rapping, melody and rhythm in configurations alternately stark and lush".[7] Mojo gave the album three out of five stars and commented that it "reveals a still intense and enthralling grittiness to her performances".[16] Dimitri Ehrlich of Vibe noted classicist soul music influences in "Blige's nostalgic flair".[17] Dele Fadele of NME gave the album an eight out of 10 rating and commented that "[Blige] draws on an eventful life to reach new levels of feeling".[18] Andy Gill of The Independent complimented Blige's "compelling delivery" and wrote that the album "may be her best, the most vivid realisation of her gripping, confessional style".[6] Steve Jones of USA Today gave it a score of three stars out of four and said, "Blige balances her trademark edginess with the personal happiness she has found in recent years. [...] What has always set her apart is that her songs have a ring of truth. Blige still touches souls, by laying bare her own."[19]


In December 2006, Mary J. Blige has received 8 grammy nominations at the 2007 Grammy Awards for The Breakthrough, the most of any artist for the 2007 awards. "Be Without You" was also nominated for both "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year". Mary won these three Grammy Awards: "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance", "Best R&B Song" (both for "Be Without You"), and "Best R&B Album" for The Breakthrough. Blige then won nine Billboard Music Awards for the work done on The Breakthrough.

Track listing[edit]

Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" from The Breakthrough

Mary J. Blige and U2's "One" from The Breakthrough

Problems playing these files? See media help.
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "No One Will Do"   Mary J. Blige, Erik Ortiz, Kevin Crowe, Clifford Brown III, Dave Young, Walter Sigler J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League 4:46
2. "Enough Cryin'" (featuring Brook Lynn) Blige, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Sean Garrett, Shawn Carter Jerkins 4:20
3. "About You" (featuring Blige, William Adams, Eunice Kathleen Waymon, Keith Harris, Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse 4:04
4. "Be Without You"   Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox, David "Young Smoke" Davis, Jason Perry, Johntá Austin Cox, Young Smoke (co.) 4:06
5. "Gonna Breakthrough" (featuring Brook Lynn) Blige, Wynter Gordon, Dernst Emile, Quarun Wages, Harry Palmer D'Mile 4:00
6. "Good Woman Down"   Blige, Garrett, Patrick Douthit, Robert Aries, Freddie Jackson, Meli'sa Morgan 9th Wonder 4:07
7. "Take Me as I Am"   Blige, Jordan "Infinity" Suecof, Ron Fair, Ezekiel Lewis, Candice Nelson, Keri Hilson, Thabiso Nkhereanye, Lonnie Liston Smith Infinity, Fair 3:57
8. "Baggage"   Blige, James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Bobby Ross Avila, Issiah J. Avila, James Q. Wright, Young Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, B. R. Avila (co.), Iz Avila (co.) 3:35
9. "Can't Hide from Luv" (featuring Jay-Z) Blige, Carter, Andre Harris, Vidal Davis, Ryan Toby, Arthur Ross, Leon Ware Dre & Vidal 3:52
10. "MJB da MVP" (featuring 50 Cent) Blige, Curtis Jackson, Jayceon Taylor, Andre Lyon, Marcello Valenzano, Norman Harris, Ron Baker, Allen Felder, James Johnson, Patrice Rushen, Karen Evans, Roy Ayers Cool & Dre, Mary J. Blige 3:21
11. "Can't Get Enough"   Blige, J. Harris III, Lewis, B. R. Avila, I. J. Avila Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, B. R. Avila (co.), Iz Avila (co.), 3:40
12. "Ain't Really Love"   Blige, Cox, Austin, Candice Childress Cox 4:40
13. "I Found My Everything" (featuring Raphael Saadiq) Blige, Charlie Wiggins, Kevin Wooten, Bobby Ozuna Raphael Saadiq, Jake & The Phatman (co.) 5:23
14. "Father in You"   Blige, A. Harris, Davis, Toby Dre & Vidal 5:23
15. "Alone" (featuring Dave Young) Blige, Young, Davel "Bo" McKenzie McKenzie 4:29
16. "One" (with U2) Blige, Paul Hewson, Adam Clayton, Dave Evans, Larry Mullen Jr., Fair, Tal Herzberg Fair, Herzberg (co.) 4:20

Sample credits[edit]

Credits adapted from album liner notes.[20]

  • "No One Will Do" contains excerpts from "I Swear I Love No One but You", written by Walter Sigler; published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corporation (BMI), performed by The O'Jays, courtesy of Philadelphia International Records.
  • "About You" contains samples from "Feeling Good", written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse; published by Musical Company Productions (BMI) by arrangement with the Richmond Organization, recorded by Nina Simone, used courtesy of RCA Records, a unit of Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
  • "Gonna Breakthrough" contains samples from The Mohawks recording and composition "Champ", written by Harry Palmer; published by Embassy Music overdue from The Sparta Florida Music Group BMI, produced under the license from Warner Strategic Marketing and Jet Star Phonographics.
  • "Good Woman Down" contains excerpts from "Heart Breaking Decision", written by Robert Aries, Freddie Jackson and Meli'sa Morgan; published by EMI April Music Inc. ASCAP, Wick-Di Music ASCAP, and Universal MCA Music Pub ASCAP, performed by Meli'sa Morgan, used under the license from Capitol Records, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.
  • "Take Me as I Am" contains samples from the composition "A Garden of Peace", written by Lonnie Liston Smith; published by Songs of Universal Inc., performed by Lonnie Liston Smith; courtesy of Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
  • "Can't Hide from Luv" contains excerpts and a sample of the recording "I Wanna Be Where You Are", written by Arthur Ross and Leon Ware; published by Jobete Music Co ASCAP, performed by Willie Hutch. (P) 1977's Motown Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. Courtesy of Motown Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises.
  • "MJB da MVP" contains excerpts from "Rubberband", written by Ron Baker, Allen Felder and Norman Harris; published by Golden Fleece Music/Mured Music Co. BMI, performed by The Tramps. Used by permission courtesy of Sony/Buddah, it also contains the resung lyrics from the composition "All Night Long", written by James Johnson; published by Stone City Music (ASCAP) from the composition "Remind Me", written by Patrice Rushen and Karen Evans; published by Baby Fingers Music ASCAP, and from the composition "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", written by Roy Ayers; published by Chrysalis Music (ASCAP).


Credits for The Breakthrough adapted from Allmusic.[21]


Chart (2006) Providers Peak
Australian Albums Chart ARIA 19 Gold
Austrian Albums Chart Media Control 42
Canadian Albums Chart Nielsen SoundScan 13
Danish Albums Chart IFPI 20 [22]
Dutch Albums Chart MegaCharts 12
French Albums Chart SNEP/IFOP 25
German Albums Chart [23] Media Control 28
Irish Albums Chart IRMA 55
Italian Albums Chart FIMI 12 Gold
Japanese Albums Chart Oricon/RIAJ 18[24] Gold[25]
Norwegian Albums Chart VG Nett 18
Spanish Albums Chart PROMUSICAE 74
Swedish Albums Chart GLF 13 Platinum
Swiss Albums Chart Media Control 7
UK Albums Chart BPI/The Official UK Charts Company 22 Platinum
US Billboard 200 RIAA 1 3× Platinum
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) 1
US Top Internet Albums (Billboard) 1

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
Curtain Call: The Hits by Eminem
Billboard 200 number-one album (First Run)
January 1, 2006 – January 7, 2006
Succeeded by
Unpredictable by Jamie Foxx
Preceded by
Unpredictable by Jamie Foxx
Billboard 200 number-one album (Second Run)
January 22, 2006 – January 28, 2006
Succeeded by
Unpredictable by Jamie Foxx


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Gold and Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Kellman, Andy (December 20, 2005). "The Breakthrough - Mary J. Blige | AllMusic: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  4. ^ a b Browne, David (December 23, 2005). "The Breakthrough Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  5. ^ a b Sullivan, Caroline (December 9, 2005). "CD: Mary J Blige, The Breakthrough". The Guardian. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  6. ^ a b Gill, Andy (December 9, 2005). "Album: Mary J Blige - Reviews, Music - The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  7. ^ a b Nichols, Natalie (December 11, 2005). "For Blige, time to give back - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  8. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (December 19, 2005). "Listen Up, All My Troubled Sistahs - New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  9. ^ a b Walters, Barry (January 12, 2006). "The Breakthrough". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  10. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal (December 22, 2005). "Mary J. Blige: The Breakthrough". Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  11. ^ a b Breihan, Tom (February 2006). "Mary J. Blige, 'The Breakthrough' (Geffen)". Spin. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  12. ^ a b King, Jason (January 17, 2006). "The Royal She - Page 1 - Music - New York - Village Voice". The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  13. ^ a b c "The Breakthrough Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  14. ^ Inskeep, Thomas (January 17, 2006). "Mary J. Blige - The Breakthrough - Review - Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  15. ^ Egere-Cooper, Matilda (March 10, 2006). "BBC - Music - Review of Mary J. Blige - The Breakthrough". BBC Online. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  16. ^ "Mary J Blige - Breakthrough CD Album". Muze. CD Universe. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  17. ^ Ehrlich, Dimitri (March 2006). "Mary J. Blige – The Breakthrough (Geffen)". Vibe (Vibe Media Group) 13 (3): 186. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  18. ^ Fadele, Dele (January 7, 2006). "Mary J Blige – The Breakthrough (Geffen)". NME (IPC Media): 29. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  19. ^ Jones, Steve (December 20, 2005). "Another Blige 'Breakthrough'; another Biggie tribute (Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough)". USA Today. Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  20. ^ The Breakthrough (Media notes). Mary J. Blige. Geffen Records. 2005. 
  21. ^ The Breakthrough - Mary J. Blige | AllMusic: Credits. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  22. ^ Steffen Hung. "Mary J Blige - The Breakthrough". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  23. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  24. ^ "ザ・ブレイクスルー - メアリー・J.ブライジ/ オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  25. ^ ゴールド等認定作品一覧 2006年3月. RIAJ (in Japanese). 2006-04-10. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 

External links[edit]