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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The 1st Breakthrough"
Mary J. Blige's major debut WHAT'S THE 411 marked a change in R&B to a more hip-hop oriented sound. That isn't to say it isn't soulful because the point of hip-hop soul is to have soulful vocals against a hip-hop backdrop. WHAT'S THE 411 masters that concept and Mary J. Blige has honed an improved upon that concept through each successive album rarely taking backsteps...
Published on June 13, 2006 by Michael Brent Faulkner, Jr.

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So Mary,What IS The 411?
Somehow along the way Mary J and this album in particular got fixated in my memory from the time I was 12 years old on. She always had the disadvantage of being just slight overhyped and comparasins were flying around everywhere. In the end I actually just heard this album that everyone hailed as a milestone when it first came out. After all is said and done one really...
Published on January 24, 2010 by Andre S. Grindle


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The 1st Breakthrough", June 13, 2006
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
Mary J. Blige's major debut WHAT'S THE 411 marked a change in R&B to a more hip-hop oriented sound. That isn't to say it isn't soulful because the point of hip-hop soul is to have soulful vocals against a hip-hop backdrop. WHAT'S THE 411 masters that concept and Mary J. Blige has honed an improved upon that concept through each successive album rarely taking backsteps along the journey.

This album is packed with some hits, songs that Mary will always be known for. "Reminisce" is a great track showcasing Blige's vocals (a combination between the sensibilities of hip-hop and Aretha, Gladys, Patti, etc...). "You Remind Me" is another Blige staples as well as "Sweet Thing" and "Love No Limit". Basically, this is a classic album that you don't get tired of listening over and over again and it is the "breakthrough" of Mary J. Blige. If WHATS THE 411? is the breakthrough, then THE BREAKTHROUGH is the affirmation and the point of arrival of the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul's status and function in the R&B world. In an R&B world where some of R&B new-found hip-hop sensibility has went in the adverse direction, Mary J. Blige keeps the soul of R&B alive. 5 stars for "The 1st Breakthrough".
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once I heard "You Remind Me" and I've been hooked ever since., May 29, 2006
By 
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
I fell in love with this album the first time I heard it, even though "Real Love" was her first single into this world. Mary was on a mission that decade. Coming straight out of Yonkers in her tight jeans, and combat boots, carrying her amazing voice ready to take aim at our hearts.

Believe it or not, there was a time when Sean "Puffy" Combs really added a lot to the music world. On this album, Puffy was doing what he does (did?) best, producing an up and coming artist. He took Mary's outstanding smooth and sexy voice and produced an amazing R&B record with some hip hop influences (witness the Notorious BIG making a small guest appearance).

Mary is a artistic female singers in R&B history. In this album there are absolutely no weak tracks, and the ones that are average are still good. This of course comes with the irresistible "Real Love", a decent cover of "Sweet Thing" and the tantalizing, emotional duet with K-Ci of Jodeci, "I Don't Want To Do Anything".

Who would of guess this was just a warm-up for what was still yet to come from one of the premier singers of the 90's. For those of you who don't know why Mary is the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul then pick this up and find out why. Even her "My Life" and "Share My World" albums are equally good.

Continue what you do best Mary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It all starts here!, December 22, 2005
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
No Mary J. Blige music consumer should have any of her albums before this one!

Thirteen years after her '92 debut, it's still a timeless masterpiece. I didn't know anyone back in tha day that didn't think this album was tight.

And to this day I still don't know anybody who doesn't like it upon hearing it.

This is the album that drew her comparisons to Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin (and I'd even go as far as to say country singing great Loretta Lynn -- Mary has her "every man", err, "every woman" relatable qualities).

Sweet Thing is my all-time favorite Blige jam! I know Chaka did it first, but Mary's version is so good even my moms loved it.

You Remind Me is another classic. Can't You See What I've been going through is tight. Love No Limit was a great video but I kept hearing it on the radio until I loved it.

This is an album of a dying breed ... one you can listen to without skipping ahead (although you might end up replaying a few over and over b/c you can't get enough).

Highly recommended purchase for all music consumers!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's The 411?, December 18, 2005
By 
Geminigirl (Philadelphia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
In anticipation of Mary's new joint, I had a Mary-athon - not to compare one album to the next but just to appreciate where she started as an artist and how she's grown & evolved to now. I actually didn't buy this album until after I'd purchased & fell in love with 'My Life'.

Back in 1992, Mary took the r&b world by storm with this release. NOBODY was doing music that so successfully mixed hip hop beats with such a soulful voice and rightfully almost every single released soared up the top 10 charts of r&b music.

Listening to it again was cool and I noticed that songs I loved then, I still love now and the good thing about these particular singles is that they sound TIMELESS - they're not specific to the 90's. The standout tracks to me are: REMINISCE, REAL LOVE, YOU REMIND ME & LOVE NO LIMIT.

Tracks that I haven't really listened to consistently but upon this listen really sounded great to me are: I DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING & SLOW DOWN. Her cover of SWEET THING gets an honorable mention but really doesn't quite come up to the level of Chaka Khan's original but it is a nice shout out.

Overall I'd give the disc an B+ rating because there's only 2 tracks that I consider filler and they are even great to listen to because of the beats the 7 songs I mentioned are truly enjoyable to listen to even now, 13 years after they were released. So if you're curious about the beginnings of the 'Queen of Hip Hop/Soul' and enjoy this genre of music, I'd highly recommend you getting this disc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She Blows Up tha Spot..., October 31, 2005
By 
MCB (Orange, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
...with this debut. Nobody saw this coming, not at least the country as a whole. One of the most important female singers to come along in the last 20 years, Mary shows the world how hard times and heartbreak mold and form a natural singing talent to become a force in American music, not just R&B, urban, or whatever it's being called these days.

These are just samples of her talent (she raises the bar in future efforts). You can hear the raw elegance in her vocals during the last part of "Changes...". You can hear her graceful vocalizations, not overdone-almost restrained, on "Reminisce". All of these great performances here on this album only made the people expect even more from her.

Best cut is hands down, "Love No Limit". And if you notice on the vocals, you'll hardly hear sound like that in any of her later recordings. From note one to the last fadeout second, she goes at it and just does not quit...remarkable! It was just a once-in-a-lifetime performance that has fortunately been recorded for posterity.

As I said before, this release is only the introduction of her talent, and to the re-emergence of ghetto artistry. With the help of her production team, Mary & company will help to once again broadcast the sound of (black) America across the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reminisce, September 16, 2005
By 
Carltouis Stevenson (Angeles Mesa, Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
The debut for Mary J. Blige tailored the title Queen of Hip-hop Soul rightfully taken with this twelve track release. What's The 411? was also the beginning of the style of Sean 'Puffy' Combs that brought her the sound to call her own. Simple hip-hop / rap samples gave Mary a rougher, authentic style that had given her the edge on the music for the times. Samples on the album include MC Lyte's "Stop, Look, Listen" on "Reminisce", Audio Two's "Top Billin'" on "Real Love", the remake of "Sweet Thing" is as affective as is the original, and Biz Markie's "Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz" on "Changes I've Been Going Through". She even rhymed with Grand Puba over the title track with impressive results. Mary took it to another level with the slow songs like the duet with ex-boyfriend K-Ci on "I Don't Want To Do Anything". The originality of "Slow Down" is a hidden gem to make this album complete and a complete success. The 411 is she got it going on!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trend Setting Debut from the Queen of HipHop Soul and R & B, November 24, 2006
By 
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
Mary was the shiznit straight out the gate. She had all the girls from around the way sporting ponytails hanging out the back of their baseball caps. Musically, Mary was the second coming of Aretha Franklin. Her vocals on Love No Limit, Sweet Thing, Slow Down and others were jazzy, sexy, soulful and sultry. Puffy's production blends hiphop beats with R & B grooves successfully. Classic Joint. Check it Out!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Queen of Hip Hop Soul has arrived, November 28, 2010
By 
rmcrae (Houston, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
There was nobody else like Mary J. Blige when she hit the scene in 1992. Hailing from the Slobaum (nicknamed Slow Bomb) projects of Yonkers, New York, Mary J. was raised on 70's soul and was no stranger to the gritty hip hop beats of the 80's and early 90's. A karaoke tape of the then 17 year old performing a cover of Anita Baker's Caught Up In the Rapture led to a record deal with Uptown Records. With a young Puff Daddy/Puffy/Diddy as producer, What's the 411? birthed a new star and leader of the Hip Hop Soul genre.

After the Leave A Message intro, Reminisce opens the set. Backed by gospel-like backup vocals, Mary encourages an old flame to "go down to lover's lane with the love we shared" for old time's sake. Love the passionate vocals on such a slinky, late night jam. Real Love is the song that put Mary on the map. Who can forget that addictive chorus " Real love/I'm searching for a real love/Someone to set my heart free/Real love/I'm searching for a real love!"? The music reminds me of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Don't ask.

Now the middle of You Remind Me reminds me of music at a carnival. Of course it has nothing to do with carnivals or the circus. Experiencing a serious case of déjà vu, Mary can't get over the striking resemblance a new guy has to her ex. Everything from the way he talks to the way he dances. "I saw you before, baby/It's a deja vu, honey/Don't you know that you remind me?"

After a short skit featuring a then unknown Busta Rhymes (who's always reminded me of the Lion from The Wiz, but I digress), Miss Blige takes on the classic Sweet Thing. It's a pretty gutsy move to cover a Chaka Khan song and on a debut record no less, but Mary killed it with her soulful chops! "I just want to satisfy ya/Cuz you're not mine, I can't deny it/Don't ya hear me talking baby?/Love me now or I'll go crazy!"

Her voice takes on a more jazz-inflected tone a la Anita Baker on my personal fav Love No Limit. "Loving you, said loving you/Is all that I, all that I wanna do/Baby, baby, baby, heeeeey!" The nod to Anita becomes more apparent by the end with that smoky register complete with some lovely scats. Mary's at the time boyfriend K-Ci Hailey of Jodeci fame joins in on the sizzling slow jam I Don't Want To Do Anything. It's obvious those two had something going on based on the chemistry they shared and the heat that rises from the track. "If loving you is all that I have to do/I don't want to do anything else!"

Speaking of heat, Slow Down will just about set you on fire. Based in the new jack swing of the era, this sensual track assures a man that there's no need to rush while making love. "The lovin' ain't goin' nowhere" so take your time.

Enough of the lovey dovey stuff. My Love recalls I Will Survive with it's "you shoulda known better" scolding of a guy who left Mary for another woman and then crawls back when she kicked his sorry behind to the curb. "And it's a shame that you wanna come back now, baby/My love has gone away!" Buh bye!

The downcast Changes I've Been Going Through is a preview of the consuming despair Mary would find herself in during the recording of her next record My Life. "Tell me baby, did I push you away?/Was I coming on to strong for you?/Why can't you tell me, tell me what am I supposed to do?" she pleads. It's hard to listen to knowing what was up ahead, but it's one of the best songs the album has to offer. Mary trades some rhymes with Grand Puba on the closer What's The 411? and also throws in some lyrics from the 80's classic Very Special. I'd love to hear a rap record from her alter ego Brook Lynne in the future.

While the comparisons to Chaka Khan and the crowning title of the Queen of Hip Hop Soul might've been premature at the time, Mary J's future releases would prove she was all that and then some. You betta act like you know!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "What's the 411?" is a classic!, October 13, 2005
By 
Mikeisha Best (Mitchellville, Maryland United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
Mary J. Blige is one of R&B's elite. Any fool knows that. She has worked with a countless number of her colleagues. If an R&B legend being honored, Mary is 95% of the time apart of that tribute. She has had a hard life growing up in New York. Her father left her and her family at an early age, and Mary soon after begin using drugs heavily. She has been abused by her ex-boyfriends. I, personally see a huge change in her maturity. She is truly a woman now. She has grown up so much throughout the years. This is the album that began the Mary J. Blige saga...

Six of this album's twelve tracks were released. How many albums have that much success? I can count them on my fingers. "What's the 411?" came out in 1992. Each time I listen to this album I am reminded of those wonderful times the early 1990's brought. "Real Love" was played all the time. Mary has this soulful voice that many people are not blessed with. Even on a fast tempo song like "Real Love", she lets her listener know that she can really sing. Mary covered Chaka Khan's hit "Sweet Thang". She did a beautiful job on this song. Chaka couldn't have done it any better herself. Just wave your hands from side to side and sing it. "Oh, oh, sweet thang, don't you know you're my everything" Haha. This is the best song on the CD, without a doubt. "I Don't Want to Do Anything" is a duet with K-Ci Hailey, whom she dated. This song is really nice, and their vocal performance is especially good. "Love No Limit" and "Reminisce" were both released and both stronger songs on the album. I love "You Remind Me". Everything about the song is great. The chorus is really catchy, the lyrics are good, and nice production. Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/Sean Combs produced this album. Kudos to him because he did a really nice job.

I recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of music. It's an essential, trust me.

Mikeisha's Top 5

1. Sweet Thing

2. You Remind Me

3. Real Love

4. Love No Limit

5. I Don't Want to Do Anything
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mary Album to have!, March 1, 2002
By 
"cj81510975677" (Auburn, N.Y. United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What's the 411 (Audio CD)
Mary J. Blige is one remarkable women! This is her very first album and her vocals are truly amazing. This women is so talented. All the songs on this album are "Amazing" I can't say which track I like the most!
Track two, "Reminisce" has an intro that starts out so strong and powerful. Mary let her vocals shine in the begining of this song.
Track three, "Real Love" this song became a huge hit for Mary. In the song if a person will pay enough attention they will hear Mary sing in many different octavies. This song is one of those songs that when you listen too it brings you back to the year when this song first hit airways and you can recall everything about that year just by listening to that song.
Track four, "You Remind Me" This track showcases Mary's sassiness in her vocals. Let me tell you that sassiness made the song. This is also one of those songs that brings you back to the year when it came out.
Track six and nine. I decided to write about these two tracks togther because of their sound. They both almost sound alike. Track six which is "Sweet Thing" and track nine which is "Slow Down" both have a familar vibe to it. These songs are one of those songs that you can sit back light some candles and relax to while you are listing to them. They both show a softer side of Mary's vocals.
Track eight, "I Don't Want To Do Anything" This is a remarkable song that she and K-ci did togther. K-CI lending his amazing vocals to this duet made the song one of those songs that could never be remade ever! They both work so well vocally togther that I would love to hear a newer up dated 2000's version of this song.
Track eleven, "Changes I've Been Going Through" this starts out with an incrediable beat, one of those beats that you can't get out of your head after you listen to it. This song should have been as big of a hit as "Real Love" This is also another song I would like her to sing again in the 2000 's.
All in all What's the 411 has earned Mary respect ever since it hit airwaves. Mary has proved that being an up and coming artist and being young you can still have the right flavor to make an album work on its first try. You go gir!
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What's The 411?
What's The 411? by Mary J. Blige
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