The Breakthrough

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The Breakthrough
Mary J Blige - The Breakthrough.png
Studio album by Mary J. Blige
Released December 20, 2005 (2005-12-20)
Genre R&B[1]
Length 72:59
Label Geffen
Producer
Mary J. Blige chronology
Love & Life
(2003)Love & Life2003
The Breakthrough
(2005)
Growing Pains
(2007)Growing Pains2007
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 singer Mary J. Blige. It was released on December 20, 2005, by Geffen Records. Blige recorded the album with a host of songwriters and record producers, including 9th Wonder, Rodney Jerkins, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Bryan-Michael Cox, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Raphael Saadiq, Chucky Thompson, Cool & Dre, Ron Fair, and will.i.am.

The Breakthrough received positive reviews from most critics and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. It was certified three-time platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has sold 3,100,000 copies in the United States.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[3]
Entertainment Weekly B+[1]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[4]
The Independent 4/5 stars[5]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[6]
NME 8/10[7]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[8]
Spin B–[9]
USA Today 3/4 stars[10]

The Breakthrough was released by Geffen Records on December 25, 2005, to generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 76, based on 20 reviews.[11] Andy Gill of The Independent deemed it perhaps "her best, the most vivid realisation of her gripping, confessional style".[5] David Browne believed The Breakthrough marked a return for Blige to her dramatic strengths, writing in Entertainment Weekly that the music's "messy sprawl of conflicted emotions feels true to her fierce, prickly personality (not to mention life itself)".[1] In The New York Times, Jon Pareles credited the singer for bringing together "hip-hop realism and soul's higher aspirations, hip-hop's digitized crispness and soul's slow-building testimonies".[12] Stylus Magazine's Thomas Inskeep viewed it as a "return to form" for Blige, calling it her "finest full-length since '99's Mary",[13] while Rolling Stone journalist Barry Walters said that unlike with her previous albums, The Breakthrough's ballads genuinely stand out.[8] Andy Kellman from AllMusic said each song proved Blige had been given her "best round of productions" since the mid 1990s.[2] Los Angeles Times critic Natalie Nichols credited the producers for "adeptly weaving beats and live instruments, vocals and rapping, melody and rhythm in configurations alternately stark and lush".[6]

Jason King was less impressed in The Village Voice, feeling that The Breakthrough had improved on Blige's 2003 album Love & Life but still lacked the creativity of 1999's Mary. Blige's penchant for "hermetic, clinically slick production values doesn't complement her soul-baring aura", King wrote.[14] Spin journalist Tom Breihan felt the production's "awkwardly programmed drums and cluttered synthetic arrangements" generally failed to give her a conducive space for an effective performance and left "the songs' chin-up aphorisms ringing false".[9] Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani was more critical of the lyrics, finding them distastefully sentimental, unsubtle, and "the epitome of formulaic, giving you the feeling that you've heard this all before".[15]

In the first week of release, The Breakthrough sold 727,000 copies and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, becoming Blige's third record to top the chart.[16] It was later awarded a triple platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[17] The album spent the next two weeks at number two, behind Jamie Foxx's Unpredictable, before reclaiming the top spot in the week of January 18, 2006, when it sold 118,000 copies.[18] According to Robert Christgau, the album's commercial success and the 16-month R&B chart run of "Be Without You" were "very nearly miraculous" in the wake of Love & Life's disappointing performance and an overall downturn in the music industry. The record also "embodied Blige's 'breakthrough' from 'Queen of Hip-Hop Soul' to best-selling R&B diva", Christgau wrote in Rolling Stone.[19] The Breakthrough earned Blige eight nominations for the 2007 Grammy Awards, the most of any artist that year. "Be Without You" was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories;[20] it won for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song, while The Breakthrough won in the category of Best R&B Album.[21] By December 2009, the album had sold 3.1 million copies in the United States.[22]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "No One Will Do" 4:46
2. "Enough Cryin'" (featuring Brook)
  • Jerkins
  • Garrett[a]
4:20
3. "About You" (featuring will.i.am and Nina Simone) will.i.am 4:04
4. "Be Without You"
4:06
5. "Gonna Breakthrough" (featuring Brook)
4:00
6. "Good Woman Down"
4:07
7. "Take Me as I Am"
  • Infinity
  • Fair
  • Blige[a]
  • Fair[a]
3:57
8. "Baggage"
3:35
9. "Can't Hide from Luv" (featuring Jay-Z)
  • A. Harris
  • Davis
3:52
10. "MJB da MVP" (featuring 50 Cent) 3:21
11. "Can't Get Enough"
  • Blige
  • J. Harris III
  • Lewis
  • B.R. Avila
  • I.J. Avila
  • Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
  • James "Big Jim" Wright[d]
  • B. R. Avila[d]
  • I. Avila[d]
3:40
12. "Ain't Really Love"
  • Blige
  • Cox
  • Austin
  • Candice Childress
4:40
13. "I Found My Everything" (featuring Raphael Saadiq)
5:23
14. "Father in You"
  • Blige
  • A. Harris
  • Davis
  • Toby
  • A. Harris
  • Davis
5:23
15. "Alone" (featuring Dave Young)
  • Davel "Bo" McKenzie
  • Young
4:29
16. "One" (with U2)
  • Fair
  • Tal Herzberg[d]
4:20
Track notes

Credits adapted from album liner notes.[23]

  • ^a signifies a vocal producer.
  • ^b signifies an additional producer.
  • ^c signifies an additional vocal producer.
  • ^d signifies a co-producer.
  • "No One Will Do" contains excerpts from "I Swear I Love No One but You", written by Bunny Sigler and performed by The O'Jays.
  • "About You" contains samples from "Feeling Good", written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse and performed by Nina Simone.
  • "Gonna Breakthrough" contains samples from "The Champ", written by Harry Palmer and performed by The Mohawks.
  • "Good Woman Down" contains excerpts from "Heart Breaking Decision", written by Robert Aries, Freddie Jackson and Meli'sa Morgan and performed by Morgan.
  • "Take Me as I Am" contains samples from "A Garden of Peace", written and performed by Lonnie Liston Smith.
  • "Can't Hide from Luv" contains excerpts and a sample of "I Wanna Be Where You Are", written by Arthur Ross and Leon Ware and performed by Willie Hutch.
  • "MJB da MVP" contains excerpts from "Rubberband", written by Ron Baker, Allen Felder and Norman Harris and performed by The Tramps. It also contains resung lyrics from "All Night Long", written by James Johnson, "Remind Me", written by Patrice Rushen and Karen Evans, and "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", written by Roy Ayers.

Personnel[edit]

Credits for The Breakthrough adapted from Allmusic.[24]

  • 50 Cent – Vocals
  • Chalmers Alford – Guitar
  • Johnta Austin – Vocal Producer
  • Bobby Ross Avila – Guitar, Keyboards, Producer, Strings
  • Issiah "IZ" Avila – Bass, Drums, Percussion, Producer
  • Robert Bacon – Guitar
  • Charlie Bisharat – String Instrument
  • Mary J. Blige – Producer, Vocal Arrangement, Vocal Producer, Vocals
  • Bono – Guitar, Vocals
  • Jacqueline Brand – String Instrument, Violin
  • Craig Brockman – Piano
  • Charles "Biscuits" Brungardt – Vocal Producer
  • Roberto Cani – String Instrument, Violin
  • Lily Chen – String Instrument, Violin
  • Danny Cheung "Stems" – Engineer
  • Candice Childress – Production Coordination
  • Adam Clayton – Guitar (Bass)
  • Larry Corbett – Cello, String Instrument
  • Bryan-Michael Cox – Instrumentation, Producer, String Arrangements
  • Vidal Davis – Instrumentation, Producer
  • Loren Dawson – Piano
  • Mario Diaz de Leon – String Instrument, Violin
  • Brian Dembow – String Instrument, Viola
  • Joel Deroin – String Instrument
  • Patrick Dillett – Engineer, Vocal Producer
  • Reginald Dozier – Engineer
  • Andrew Duckles – String Instrument, Viola
  • Bruce Dukov – Violin
  • The Edge – Guitar
  • Michael Eleopoulos – Assistant Engineer, Engineer
  • Stephen Erdody – Cello, String Instrument
  • Anthony "Devyne" Evans – Engineer
  • Anthony Lavon Evans – Engineer
  • Ron Fair – Conductor, Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Orchestra Bells, Organ, Piano, Producer, String Arrangements, Vocal Arrangement, Vocal Producer
  • Jan Fairchild – Engineer
  • AMarlow Fisher – String Instrument, Viola
  • Drew FitzGerald – Art Direction
  • Paul Foley – Engineer
  • Samuel Formicola – String Instrument, Viola
  • Matt Funes – String Instrument
  • Sean Garrett – Vocal Producer
  • Endre Genet – String Instrument
  • Julie Gigante – String Instrument, Violin
  • Carl Glanville – Original Recordings
  • Larry Gold – String Arrangements
  • John Goux – Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
  • Alicia Graham – A&R
  • Endre Granat – Violin
  • Bernie Grundman – Mastering
  • Alan Grunfeld – String Instrument
  • Rexsell Hardy, Jr. – Drums
  • Andre Harris – Instrumentation, Producer
  • Keith Harris – Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Synthesizer Bass
  • Clayton Haslop – String Instrument, Violin
  • Tal Herzberg – Digital Editing, Engineer, Producer
  • Keri Hilson – Vocal Arrangement
  • Paula Hochhalter – Cello, String Instrument, Strings
  • Infinity – Producer
  • Kendu Isaacs – Management, Mixing
  • Jun Ishizeki – Assistant Engineer
  • Jake & the Phatman – Producer
  • Jimmy Jam – Producer
  • Jaycen Joshua – Assistant Engineer, Engineer, Mixing
  • Rodney Jerkins – Mixing, Producer
  • Jahaun Johnson – A&R
  • Justice League – Producer
  • Suzie Katayama – Cello, String Instrument
  • Bernard Kenny – Bass
  • Kimberly Kimble – Hair Stylist
  • Markus Klinko & Indrani – Photography
  • Armen Ksadjikian – Cello, String Instrument
  • Songa Lee – String Instrument, Violin
  • Natalie Leggett – String Instrument, Violin
  • Phillipe Levy – String Instrument, Violin
  • Terry Lewis – Producer
  • Andrea Liberman – Stylist
  • David Low – String Instrument
  • David Lowery – String Instrument
  • Rene Mandel – Violin
  • Matt Marrin – Engineer
  • Tony Maserati – Mixing
  • Harvey Mason, Sr. – Glockenspiel, Tympani [Timpani]
  • Darrin McCann – String Instrument, Viola
  • Davel "Bo" McKenzie – Producer
  • Cornelius Mims – Bass
  • Vicki Miskolczy – Viola
  • Peter Mokran – Mixing
  • Wesley Morrow – Production Coordination
  • Larry Mullen, Jr. – Drums, Percussion
  • Dean Nelson – Assistant, Mixing
  • 9th Wonder – Producer
  • Robin Olson – Violin
  • Robert Ozuna – Drums, Percussion, Scratching
  • Sid Page – String Instrument, Violin
  • Alyssa Park – String Instrument, Violin
  • Dave Pensado – Mixing
  • Katia Popov – Violin
  • Jack Joseph Puig – Mixing
  • Frank Romano – Guitar
  • Mark Robertson – Violin
  • Mally Roncal – Make-Up
  • Anatoly Rosinsky – Violin
  • Raphael Saadiq – Bass, Guitar, Producer
  • Allen Sides – Engineer
  • The South Central Chamber Orchestra – Strings
  • South Central Orchestra – Strings
  • Tereza Stanislav – String Instrument
  • Supa Engineer "Dura" – Mixing
  • John Tanksley – Assistant Engineer, Engineer
  • Troy Taylor – Vocal Producer
  • Cecilia Tsan – Cello
  • Charles Vail – Strings
  • Josephina Vergara – String Instrument, Violin
  • will.i.am – Engineer, Keyboards
  • Kelvin Wooten – Keyboards
  • Benjamin Wright – String Arrangements, String Conductor, String Writing
  • James "Big Jim" Wright – Keyboards, Producer
  • Dave Young – Performer
  • Dave Young Orchestra – Vocal Producer

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[57] Gold 35,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[58] Gold 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[59] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[60] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[61] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Browne, David (December 23, 2005). "The Breakthrough Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  2. ^ a b Kellman, Andy (December 20, 2005). "The Breakthrough - Mary J. Blige | AllMusic: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Mary J. Blige". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (December 9, 2005). "CD: Mary J Blige, The Breakthrough". The Guardian. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  5. ^ a b Gill, Andy (December 9, 2005). "Album: Mary J Blige - Reviews, Music - The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  6. ^ a b Nichols, Natalie (December 11, 2005). "For Blige, time to give back - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  7. ^ Fadele, Dele (January 7, 2006). "Mary J Blige – The Breakthrough (Geffen)". NME. IPC Media: 29. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  8. ^ a b Walters, Barry (January 12, 2006). "The Breakthrough". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  9. ^ a b Breihan, Tom (February 2006). "CDs". Spin. p. 85. 
  10. ^ Jones, Steve (December 20, 2005). "Another Blige 'Breakthrough'; another Biggie tribute (Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough)". USA Today. Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  11. ^ "The Breakthrough Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  12. ^ Pareles, Jon (December 19, 2005). "Listen Up, All My Troubled Sistahs - New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  13. ^ Inskeep, Thomas (January 17, 2006). "Mary J. Blige - The Breakthrough - Review - Stylus Magazine Archived 2012-10-12 at the Wayback Machine.". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  14. ^ King, Jason (January 17, 2006). "The Royal She - Page 1 - Music - New York - Village Voice". The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  15. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (December 22, 2005). "Mary J. Blige: The Breakthrough". Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  16. ^ "Blige's 'Breakthrough' Bows At No. 1". Billboard. December 28, 2005. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Gold and Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  18. ^ "Blige's 'Breakthrough' Returns To No. 1". Billboard. January 18, 2006. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 13, 2007). "Mary's Growth Spurt". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  20. ^ Cohen, Sandy (December 7, 2006). "“Breakthrough” for Blige: 8 Grammy nominations". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Mary J. Blige". GRAMMY.com. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  22. ^ Mitchell, Gail (December 12, 2009). "Mary J. Blige, Growing Stronger". Billboard. p. 19. 
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  24. ^ The Breakthrough - Mary J. Blige | AllMusic: Credits. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
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  58. ^ ゴールド等認定作品認定 2006年3月 (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Archived from the original on March 28, 2009. Retrieved November 11, 2010. 
  59. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Mary J. Blige; 'The Breakthrough')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  60. ^ "British album certifications – Mary J Blige – The Breakthrough". British Phonographic Industry. February 3, 2006. Retrieved August 10, 2016.  Enter The Breakthrough in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  61. ^ "American album certifications – Mary J. Blige – The Breakthrough". Recording Industry Association of America. April 10, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2016.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]