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94 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An aptly-titled tour de force!
If there is justice in the universe, Mary J's latest release will definitely introduce her to a much larger audience and bring her a truckload of awards, along with multi-platinum sales. There is, no doubt, that the singer poured all of her considerable vocal and songwriting talents into this most personally revealing and musically satisfying album. Co-writing no less...
Published on December 23, 2005 by Reginald D. Garrard

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Breakthrough
If I had one word to describe the majority of this album it'll be "Tha Knock". On a serious tip, Mary's background music makes you scream, "That's that Knock." For the most part this album is ok. It's certainly not terrible but does not stand out as a legendary piece. What I love most about this album is the purity, honesty and sincerity it contains. Mary's lyrics are...
Published on February 9, 2006 by Sasha


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94 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An aptly-titled tour de force!, December 23, 2005
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
If there is justice in the universe, Mary J's latest release will definitely introduce her to a much larger audience and bring her a truckload of awards, along with multi-platinum sales. There is, no doubt, that the singer poured all of her considerable vocal and songwriting talents into this most personally revealing and musically satisfying album. Co-writing no less than eleven of the listed sixteen songs (there is a "hidden" bonus cut included at the end of track 16), Blige is a spokesperson for women, as well as a "therapist" that can give good counsel to men as they deal the topsy-turvy relations game.

On an album wherein all the cuts are outstanding, my favorites include "Enough Cryin'", a triumph of writing, Blige's trademark forceful vocal performance, brilliant orchestral arrangement, and extraordinary background accompaniment; "About You," featuring Will.i.am and legendary Nina Simone, is another brilliantly orchestrated track; the poetic "Be Without You"; "Good Woman," a thought-provoking and toe-tapping message to the young sistahs; and the double-threat of "Take Me as I Am" and "Baggage".

"MJB Da MVP" chronicles Blige's triumphant fourteen-year (and counting) career, expressing the singer's highs and lows, as well as her appreciation of her fans.

There are not enough superlatives that can be heaped upon "Ain't Really Love." This is the kind of song that Aretha could've done in her prime and, obviously, the "Queen's" scepter has been passed to Mary.

The gospel-influenced "I Found My Everything," co-written by featured vocalist Raphael Saadig, has a Prince-thing about it, musically and lyrically.

"Father in You" is sheer perfection in more ways than one as a tribute to fathers and strong men.

And the last (credited) cut with U2 ("One") demonstrates that Blige can hold her own (and on occasion, overpower) the best on the world's musical stage.

Another bonus of the release is the breathtaking photography and attire of the singer.

Blige has never looked sexier and more captivating.

Mariah Carey best be glad that this album was not released earlier in the year.

Mary J's "emancipation" is far superior to "Mimi's"!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Break On Through, December 23, 2005
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
The Breakthrough is possibly the best album of Mary J. Blige's great career. Ms. Blige's singing has gained a sense of maturity and she inhabits the songs with feel of someone who has experienced life's ups and downs and is comfortable singing about both. Several of the songs are directed at her new husband, producer Kendu Isaacs. The best is "Baggage" where she apologizes for bringing all her emotional drama to the relationship and "Father In You" is superb classic soul where Ms. Blige thanks her husband for the ways he has made up for her absent father. "Good Woman Down" she plays the role of mentor to young woman who went through the troubles she went through. "I Found My Everything" is a straight-up anthem with an exuberant vocal. There are virtually no missteps outside of her cover of U2's "One" which drags on a bit too long.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary's VERY Best Work, December 20, 2005
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
Mary J. Blige's THE BREAKTHROUGH is clearly one of Mary's strongest albums EVER. Mary J. Blige becomes extremely personal on this album, much more so than her 2003 effort LOVE & LIFE. While LOVE & LIFE was a good album (though some critics called it one of her weaker efforts), THE BREAKTHROUGH easily trumps LOVE in almost everyway.

First, Mary J. Blige had some slight pitch issues on LOVE & LIFE. Here on THE BREAKTHROUGH, Blige's voice is much better in tune while still keeping the same raw emotion that she has within her powerhouse vocals. In fact, in a growth that has stemmed since Blige's debut album and the emotion she showed on the exceptional "I'm Going Down" (from her second I believe), Blige's vocals have grown more and more emotional with a greater coarseness that provides for a great texture on her recordings. In fact, Blige is one of the few artists that continue to build herself better and better with each substantial recording. Now, with THE BREAKTHROUGH, she has reached the pinnacle.

What is particularly fantastic about THE BREAKTHROUGH is the fact that Blige isn't afraid to admit she has her faults or that she hasn't lived a perfect life. Most of her songs have blatant titles such as "Baggage" or "Take Me as I Am". Even more sweet or real (however you perceive it) is her love songs and "poetry" that is directed towards her husband music producer Kendu, where she has such songs as the exceptional "Can't Get Enough", "I Found My Everything", and arguably, "Father in You". In another exceptional cut, "Good Woman Down", Blige tells the story about her father being abusive to her mother very powerfully. It is themes such as these that make THE BREAKTHROUGH ever more credible.

Not only does THE BREAKTHROUGH stand on its own two feet where topics of interest are concerned, the production is among the best for any R&B album of 2005. On The Jay-Z featured "Can't Hide From Love", a neat sample is used mixed with a deep bass line, well produced drum programming, keyboards, and of course Blige's powerful vocals on top of it all. Furthermore, acoustic piano lines are laced throughout the album on tracks such as excellent first single "Be Without You". Furthermore, some of the risks taking with sampling provide yet another vehicle of excellence to this already exceptional affair. "About You" brings late jazz diva Nina Simone to the mix with a sample of her most famous song "Feeling Good". To make the use of that sample even greater is how Blige wonderfully harmonizes above Nina's low register, smoky vocals. Furthermore, the exceptional "I Found My Everything" sounds so similar to Aretha Franklin's legendary recording of "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)" in its overall timbre and soulful feel. In fact, on several occasions, you can clearly hear the influence of Aretha Franklin on Mary J. Blige as Blige very successfully keeps the spirit of soul alive throughout this album.

There is no true filler material on this album, which is shocking for an R&B album. This will definitely be a Grammy Nominee for 2007. This is honestly one of the best R&B albums of 2005, period. Well done Mary. 5 stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the music of Mary J. Blige, February 14, 2007
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This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
I love the music of Mary J. Blige. My favorite track on this album is Take Me As I Am. This is an excellent song about self acceptance and loving yourself. This is a very inspirational song for anyone who is struggling in life. No One Will Do is a standout track. This is a song about the love Mary has for her husband. Another highlight on this CD is MJB Da MVP. This song is about the ups and downs of Mary's life and career in the music business. It is a great dance track. Be Without You is another gem on this album. This is a heart wrenching hit song about missing a loved one. One is a very strong track too. Bono and Mary sound great singing together. Mary gives this classic U2 song a special touch with her soulful voice. The songs on this CD are very personal. The Breakthrough is the best album in the career of Mary J. Blige.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Live the Queen: Mary J. Blige Officially Breaks Through, April 27, 2006
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
The Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul helped close 2005 by releasing her seventh studio album, The Breakthrough-arguably her best work. At a point in her life where she has experienced many of life's joys and dramas, Mary J. Blige is intelligent and shares this knowledge on her beautiful Breakthrough.

Debuting on the Billboard 200 Album chart at No. 1 with 727,136 units sold, the now-platinum Breakthrough ranks with the highest first-week sales by a female R&B artist in Billboard history.

On The Breakthrough, Blige delivers a message; that is, anything in life is possible. From growing up in the tough streets of Yonkers, NY to abusing drugs, Blige has blossomed into a talented, strong-willed woman and musical icon. The Breakthrough's leading single, "Be Without You," explores the ups and the downs between man and woman in a relationship. In the song, Blige continues to work at keeping her relationship together. It is evident that this song is personal to Blige; as a recently married woman, she faces situations like these-it is one of those things couples decide to cope with when committed. "Be Without You" has reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart and has broke into the top ten on the Hot 100 Singles chart. The music video for the song has also reached No.1 on BET's 106th and Park video countdown and features Hustle & Flow star Terrence Howard.

The set of 16 tremendous tracks opens with a bang-"No One Will Do," where Blige pays homage to husband and record producer Kendu Isaacs. Guest appearances on The Breakthrough include Jay-Z, U2 and the Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am, while productions by Rodney Jerkins (Destiny's Child, Brandy), Raphael Saadiq (Teedra Moses, Tony! Toni! Ton?!), and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (Usher, Mariah Carey) combine with Blige's rough, yet sweet voice to create a masterpiece.

Aside from the first single, "Take Me As I Am," "One," "Good Woman Down" and "Ain't Really Love" are the album's top tracks.

In "Take Me As I Am," Blige sings, "You know I've been holding on / Try to make me weak / But I still stay strong / Put my life all up in these songs / Just so you can feel me,"-proving that more than ever that she has grown and accepts herself and others for who they are. On the track, Blige credits New York City and God for her growth, independence and self-confidence.

Other highlights include "Alone," a duet with Blige's new artist Dave Young, and the personal, "Father In You." A song where Blige asks husband Kendu to be the father figure she never had, is an issue that many young African American females can relate to. "I Found My Everything" continues to display Blige's growth with an old school feel, while tracks like "Gonna Breakthrough" and "MJB Da MVP" sample hip-hop beats that flow nicely with Blige's voice-something only few artists can attempt successfully.

Serving as the executive producer on The Breakthrough, Blige provides true and genuine songs, and in result, her prior three sets, Love & Life (2003), No More Drama (2001) and Mary (1999), respectively, seem mediocre. While they may have spawned Blige's first and only No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart hit ("Family Affair," 2001), GRAMMY and MTV Video Music awards and include collaborations with Elton John and Method Man (with whom Blige received her first GRAMMY award for her work on their duet "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By" in 1995), still isn't enough to compare to The Breakthrough. Over the years Blige has only matured; consequently, so has her music.

A collaboration that could never be forgotten-Mary J. Blige and U2-outshines other "best of both worlds" attempts on "One." On the track, Blige even outshines U2's vocalist Bono, where her voice is loud, beautiful, deep and clear. Blige sings powerful lyrics: "Have you come here for forgiveness? / Have you come to raise the dead? / Have you come here to play Jesus? / To the lepers in your head." Blige and U2 will perform the song at the 48th Annual GRAMMY Award Show.

Blige, 35, will launch a tour this spring to promote The Breakthrough. She will also be taking a page out of Academy Award Winner Jamie Foxx's book and star in MTV's biopic of Nina Simone. MJB fans can also hear Blige on "Love Changes" from Foxx's release, Unpredictable.

Recently, Blige was awarded the V Legend award at the 3rd Annual VIBE Awards. Blige has also been nominated for three NAACP Image awards, including Outstanding Album for The Breakthrough. Blige's influences on contemporary R&B artists can be seen through the likes of Alicia Keys and rising stars Amerie and Keyshia Cole. She is a great role model for young adults across the nation, thus serving as Hip-Hop/Soul's queen.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary J.'s Breakthrough, April 14, 2006
By 
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
When it comes to putting down naked emotion to music, (which after all, is what soul music is supposed to be all about), there can be no doubt that Mary J. is the best we have right now. There's also something to be said for the fact that she's managed to attain and sustain her success without resorting to stripping down to her bikini.

I have immense respect for the woman on so many levels. I think it's clear that over the years, she has grown not only as a recording artiste but also as a person. She's obviously happier than she's ever been and this comes through on this latest work. All in all, (especially when compared to what else is available out there), it's a decent body of work. I'm not going to bother with individual songs as I think other reviwers on here have said all that needs to be said. What I will say is that after the relative dullness of her last few CDs, Mary J. Blige can rest assured that her crown is safely back in place. The queen of hip-hop/soul/r&b is back!

However, it's my opinion that reviewers who suggest that this is her best work to date, or that it can be compared to "What's The 411?" or "My Life" just couldn't possibly have been there at the time. Those two albums in particular, were events. The songs, the videos, the Puff Daddy club remixes, the drama... it was a phenomenon the likes of which we are never likely to see again. Mary J. Blige may well go on to produce a CD that will outsell her first two albums - maybe she already has done - but I sincerely doubt that she (or any other artiste for that matter), will be able to replicate the impact that she had when she burst onto the scene in the mid-nineties. My friends and I still feel something today when we play her early stuff and we're talking well over 10 years later. Will or can the same happen with this one? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

With all that said, I still think "The Breakthrough" will be a must-have for most (if not all) Mary J. fans and it will definitely introduce her to new a brand new and wider audience as well. Good stuff! Well done, girl!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Her best album in a LONG time, August 20, 2006
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
I have been a Mary J. Blige fan since her heyday in the early `90s; in fact, I even remember when she used to sing backup for Father MC. But while her first four albums were great, her next two albums were kind of average. Also, as my brother said, her voice was starting to weaken. But as soon as I first heard "Be Without You" on the radio, I was blown away and I had a feeling she was making a comeback. And she does just that on The Breakthrough.

There are great songs aplenty on here, so it's hard to pick any one as the favorite. But introspective tracks duly impress, like "Father In You" and the motivational "Good Woman Down". "Baggage" is also stellar, as it has Mary telling her man that she's not bringing her problems to THEIR relationship or blaming him for them (why can't MORE women say things like tha--never mind).

Other highlights include "Take Me As I Am", the cover of U2's "One" (complete with U2), and the Raphael Saadiq-assisted "I Found My Everything". And while I never really cared for Mary's rapping alter-ego Brook-lyn, the rap in "Enough Cryin" actually makes a great song even better. That always isn't the case, though, as evidenced by "Gonna Breakthrough".

There aren't many fast songs to be found on here, which is good because that's what brought her last two albums down; case in point: I didn't care for the hidden bonus track. And the musical timeline found in "MJB Da MVP" would be great if it wasn't for the lazy sample of a sample (it lifts 50 Cent's chorus from Game's "Hate It Or Love It"). The album as a whole is also a tad long at 73 minutes.

But The Breakthrough is still great. Take heed, though: don't buy this expecting another What's the 411 or My Life. Just enjoy the album for what it is, and I'm sure you'll be as pleased with it as I am.

Anthony Rupert
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Voice that Feeds the Soul, July 6, 2006
By 
M. Nastasi "Matt" (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
What can I say about this CD that hasn't already been said? Mary J. Blige has stood the test of time in a segment of the industry that chews up and spits out lesser performers. Her commitment to the emotion behind the lyrics she sings (with those amazing, incredible pipes of hers) is evident in every track.

The standout for me on this release is her cover of U2's "One" (with BONO accompanying, no less). She re-imaged this most beautiful of rock ballads into something uniquely her own, building up from a plaintive cry of loss to a crescendo of resolute strength that breaks free of the strains of the music to uplift the spirit.

Do yourself a favor - buy this and feed your soul.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood on the Tracks, June 20, 2006
By 
MICHAEL ACUNA (Southern California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
Listening to "The Breakthrough" is like overhearing a very personal, heartfelt conversation between good friends, a confession between a penitent and her priest, a child and her parents...pillow-talk between lovers.
Mary J. has always been about laying it on the line, opening up her veins and bleeding into the grooves of her recordings: she is the most personal of singers.
Throughout the last few years she has been able to come up with some great recordings despite a mountain of problems: for example "Share My World" and its anthemic call to arms to all young women, "Not Gon Cry"...as much a signature song for Blige as was "Respect" for Aretha. But never has her voice been this strong, this committed, this glorious: doable on record with all the studio wizards to make corrections....but have you heard her singing live on television lately?
Favorite songs here include "Good Woman Down," "Can't Get Enough of You," "Father in You, the gorgeous, melodic "Alone" and the surprisingly effective match between Bono and Blige on "One."
CD recording as a way of expiating your Sins, ridding yourself of your Demons, making amends for your miss-steps and faults: Mary, We hear you...and we get it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Her BEST ALBUM in years, March 20, 2006
This review is from: The Breakthrough (Audio CD)
Well well after Love And Life found Mary being happy and in love and boring, she gets all fired up and pissed off to this listener's pleasure. Mary is at her best when she has soem thing to rant and rave about, This time it is about how hard you have to work to be what you wan to be to stay wher eyou are and then work to love and be loved. Obviously Mary loves her husband slash. partner, but she says thnak god i won ttake nay crap. Of all the tracks on this cd that stand out for me, her version of U2;s One is a definging moment fo r me. She turns thi sismple song into a plea for treting each other with respect and love wailing we hurt each other but well do it gain . Thats' the lesson that Mary J Blige shares.
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The Breakthrough
The Breakthrough by Mary J. Blige (Audio CD - 2005)
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