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on November 21, 2011
I own "My Life" in three formats: 1) LP 2) CD 3) Digital. It was in the middle of the brilliant trilogy of "What's the 411," "My Life," and "Share My World" when my world was completely shaken. "My Life" will probably always be my favorite MJB album but I think it's so brave of her to look at such an iconic album in the face and not be afraid of it. Rather, she attempts to extend or revisit her perspectives from 17 years ago. "My Life" is an undeniable classic but Mary asks: "where are we now?"

She ponders this in the introduction to "My Life II...The Journey Continues (Act I)" when she says that "it's not a competitor, it's a sequel." So she is letting us know that this album has a fresh perspective but retains the genuine aspects of "My Life" that we love so much.

I'm currently on my third spin of the album and I love it so much. Since the "Mary" album, I've felt as if I've only listened to Mary casually. I truly don't think this has anything to do with Mary but, rather, the space I've found myself in at any particular time.

I loved "In the Meantime" from "No More Drama." I loved "Fade Away" and "Smoke" from "Growing Pains." & when I put on "My Life II" today, I rediscovered my love for this legend all over again.

The first half of the album is very good--minus the remake of "Ain't Nobody"-my least favorite song on the album--but trust me, the second half is where you want to be.

"Don't Mind," "No Condition," "Mr. Wrong," "Love of a Woman," "Empty Prayers," and "Need Someone" are stellar tracks.

This is the Mary J. Bilge that I know & love. & this has nothing to do with the tension between "happy" and "sad" Mary. It has everything to do with the music and she simply delivers on the music with this album, which is all that has ever mattered. Welcome back Legendary one.

I have a feeling that one day I will, too, own "My Life II" in multiple formats.

Enjoy fans.

4.5
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on November 21, 2011
This hit iTunes 12am this morning. Smooth, sexy, hard, soulful, beautiful. That's how I would describe this cd. Mary J brings yet another winning cd. Thanks for including The Living Proof, an anthem for the struggle. The guest list is perfect also. Wonderful early Christmas present from Mrs. MJ. Thank you for answering the phone Mary, MMMMaaaarrryyyy!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 30, 2011
From the first time I heard her music,I have to admit that one key to Mary J Blige's entire career path has been uneveness. Capable of the some of the most powerful musical ideas and lyrical observations of her time one minute,than complacent to the point of resting on her laurels the next. Than again many of her musical predecessors from Aretha Franklin and Prince have careers seemingly built on inconsistency. It may in fact be at the very heart of baring ones soul in music. It is sad however Mary J finds herself in a music world in the grip of a survival crisis I've never witnessed before in my lifetime. The debate does on whether the CD format will survive over MP3's,or if soul and funk has slowly become extinct due in part to it's more posturing child hip-hop. All of these things probably factored into Mary's sequel to her career defining sophomore album. It was exciting to me when I learned she was doing this for her next album. My expectations weren't even all that way,so long as Mary lives up to herself and her artistry. Honestly,the results bare for more scrutiny than one might hope.

One of the main things about this album,after the inspiring intro featuring a conversation between Mary and Sean Combs is that the next three cuts feature....surprise surprise:guest rappers. And very cliched ones even for that. And again the rapping adds nothing to the songs. All it does is show what a low state hip-hop has come to in this day and age. No real emotional or reflective swells. Just shameless,thoughtless posturing designed to get attention and sales. And when Mary J's typically powerful voice comes in on even the fairly grooving "Next Level",you wonder why she needed Busta Rhymes there in the first place. "25/8" on the other hand is a wonderfully cinematic blend of old and new funky soul stylings,same goes for the closer "Living Proof". These songs deliver on the concept of a sequel to My Life making clear the needs of the person involved,both small and large. The country song "Need Someone" may seem a little trendy for the first few seconds but it has a country-soul flavor to it and comes at it from the gospel/Ray Charles tradition of the music which makes it work with what she's doing. Even the weaker moments such as the trashy "Mr.Wrong" could be redeemed if only the grooves were funkier and stronger. There's a sense she's going for more of an opera than a funk odyssey here. Even Rufus & Chaka's "Ain't Nobody",with it's orchestral synthesizers and loud beats tends to be more theatrical than soulful.

There's definitely the impression Mary was out to make a "big" sounding album,sort of a hip-hop opera as it were. But in a way she is just a little too late to be original on that too. Aaliyah already did that in 2001 and most recently newcomer Janelle Monae' did the same on The ArchAndroid,a fantastic musical journey also produced by Sean Puffy Combs. I can remember hearing people such as Mary J back in their heyday proclaiming they'd never make the type of mistakes of selling out the way they felt their predecessors did. That's part of what bought the whole hip-hop soul scene into place to begin with. Now,in an environment where as Smokey Robinson admitted that hip-hop has become the MAINSTREAM of music it seems as if all these young 90's innovators are now putting the cart before the horse a little bit. The lacking aspects of this album come out of conceptualization rather than performance or material. The ideas were sound. The approach has been done to the n'th degree. I cannot say Mary J Blige is an artist of unrealized potential. She's made that clear more than once with albums such as Mary and the album to which this is a sequel. While it's clear a lot of people see this album as wonderful,even brilliant sometimes....it's hard for someone such as myself not to see where someone with Mary's talent as a singer/songwriter could've done a lot better on a concept this compelling. I hope she understands that on what the album title implies will be the 2'nd act.
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on December 17, 2011
Mary OD'D! Yes, people are complaining about it not being like "My Life", trying to keep Mary in a box. If you open your mind you will hear Mary telling Puffy this cd is not a competitor against "My Life" but, a sequel to it. It's clear that Mary has grown in so many ways on this album. Each track is so individualized. The first time I played it I said, "DAMN, EVERY SONG IS HOT" each telling it's own story. And, THE BEATS, OMG! I love it. If you don't buy this cd now you're only gonna kick yourself later. This ISH is HOT! Instrumentally, rhythmically and most of all LYRICALLY! That's why I don't mind saying Mary, I love you!!
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on November 30, 2011
yes shen is one of the best and i love her and her sound i have been a fan since what's the 411 up to now and i have every album and will continue to purchase her music she is a diva and i love how she went through ups and downs and still came out on top thanks to god. so people out their who is going through so much in life at work home and in relationships please pray to our heavenly father and every thing will be ok but back to mary i have been a fan since elementary school and i still love her sound and voice and i always will. my favorite song no matter what i'm going through is no more drama that song is so powerful when i go through it i listen to it then i pray "lord i'm tired of all the drama show me a way through it" and he does. so i don't mean to preach well yes ido i love the lord and not ashame to admit it and i know it is him that gives mary this gift to touch us with so the album is great and i think we all can relate so get it you wont be dissapointed and thank you again mjb for giving us anoother great materpiece god bless to all and happy holidays
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on January 9, 2012
Mary J Blige has been in the music biz for over 20 years and still has the "fire in her belly" to put out original music and I believe she has earned the right to revisit her most revered album: MY LIFE. After listening a few times I enjoy this album slightly more than GROWING PAINS but not quite as much as THE BREAKTHROUGH. As a fan I honestly did not expect a re-creation of MY LIFE because that album came at a particular time in HER life that was bleak; it was an honest, emotional album that still hits me in the heart all these years later when I listen to it.

Beginning with the INTRO, Mary & Puff discuss HER intentions for this album. She clearly states that this album represents a continuation of her life & is not meant to compete with the MY LIFE album. (I also think Mary's unspoken wish is that her fans have grown with her and have moved past dark times as she has.)

My instant faves are:

WHY f/ Rick Ross - I cannot stop listening to this track! Love the old soul production and Rick's verses

NEED SOMEONE - Mary sounds great on this stripped down tender ballad

EMPTY PRAYERS - searingly soulful lyrics

FEEL INSIDE f/ Nas - this sounds like an old Mary joint w/ it's hot beats and one of my favorite rappers

MIDNIGHT DRIVE - Mary's alter femcee, Brook Lynn opens the track

NEXT LEVEL f/ Busta Rhymes - although I don't like Busta's opening rap or the 1st verse, the song does pick up and becomes quite enjoyable

25/8 - when I heard this via the video, I didn't exactly like it but getting to hear it on the cd, I can hear the instruments better and fell in love with the old school production

DON'T MIND - love this gently melodic mid-tempo track

THE LIVING PROOF - heartfelt autobiographical track on which Mary is truly testifying!

LOVE A WOMAN f/ Beyonce - wasn't sure about this one but their voices blend beautifully as they trade verses about how a man should behave towards his woman

MR. WRONG - caught a couple of Mary's brilliant performances of this song which made me fall in love with it

Of the other tracks the only one that I absolutely dislike is the cover of AIN'T NOBODY. This song is the type of classic timeless song that I think should be left alone. I'm not impressed with the production or Mary's vocals; instead I wish she would have covered (or in the future covers) an Anita Baker song since she got her deal by covering Anita.

This album shows that Mary has come full circle from that angry broken girl who allowed us into her pain and uneasily wore her crown as the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul to this confident woman who co-wrote much of this album.
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on December 1, 2011
Wow!! Mary brings on so much power and soul with this album. Anyone who has given this album less than 5 need to stop looking back and move ahead with an open heart for themselves. These songs had inspired me and helped me thru a rough time in my life. I found strength and motivation to move forward and not backward. Life has its ups and downs and it is nice to know someone truly understand your feelings and the different places you are in your life. Thanks Mary for this album and other songs.

This album features other artist like Nas, Brook Lynn, Busta Rhymes, Drake, Rick Ross, Beyonce, Diddy and Lil Wayne.

I also wear My Life Blossom cologne daily. Thank you Mary J for your inspiration and the timing of your songs for 2011, they help me to look forward and not backward; to get rid of things that were not healthy for me.
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on October 6, 2015
I always love Mary's studio albums because she sings about her life in a very sincere matter that relates to her fans. I loved this album for the content and Mary's vocal ability. God bless her and I hope to continue to hear more from MJB.
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on November 29, 2011
I previewed this CD on here before i purchased it and i wasn't really feeling it. The next day i decided to buy the CD and play it on my stereo so i could get a really good feel for the songs. I am glad i did this CD is amazing. She did an excellent job and the more i listen to it the more i like it. I notice several people say they want the old Mary,however it comes a point in life when a person has to grow and i think she has. I will continue to be a FAN for life!
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on January 6, 2012
Where do I begin. The CD is excellent. It's Mary at her absolute best. It's as if, when the CD was in the creative process, all concerned decided to allow Mary to be her best self. You know, the self that made her famous and the one that we all fell in love with. You know, the one that we can all relate too and am gratefut that she's giving voice to. All concerned then embarked on matching her unique style with some real top shelf production. The choice to fuse various hip-hop artists (and they are at their very best) in many of the songs while still giving the songs over to vintage Mary the songtress, is a stroke of pure genius, and, in my opinion, one that will cement her forever as one of America's greatest all-time singers.
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