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Breakthrough features songs produced by Brian Michael Cox, Rodney Jerkins, the Black Eyed Peas' Will I Am, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Dre & Vidal, Johnta Austin, Raphael Saadiq and others. The first single is the smash hit 'Da MVP'. Geffen. 2005.
Nobody knows heartache like Mary J. knows heartache. But as she releases her seventh disc, perhaps more important is that nobody understands better how unquenchable our thirst to hear what it sounds like can be. The Breakthrough, contrary to run-up rumors, is no retrospective or greatest-hits package. Rather than reheat, Blige and producers Dr. Dre, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Will.i.am tasked themselves with stirring a river of hurt into some of the highest-caliber hip-hop/soul to hit the airwaves since she burned up the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack with "Not Gon' Cry." Cameos alone could sell this disc: Brook, Jay-Z, Raphael Saadiq, and Bono step up. But it's the trademark ragged-edged soul of its star that shines brightest throughout the 16 tracks. "A love that tears you down ain't really love," a laid-bare Blige reminds us on "Ain't Really Love," after dedicating "Good Woman Down" to "my troubled sisters." Somewhere in between, she leaves absolutely no room for doubt that she just can't be without her baby ("Be Without You"). It's an exhilarating, love-affirming moment on a CD jammed full of them (check out "Can't Get Enough," with its echoes of a pleading Curtis Mayfield). Blige, never far from the thoughts of the lovelorn, didn't need a breakthrough, but anybody with an ear for artful confession will be glad she's given us The Breakthrough anyway. --Tammy La Gorce
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As a fan I enjoyed her last studio release in 2003 but it was considered a flop by many because her initial single did not really turn into a hit that people expect from MJB then in desperation, three singles were quickly released during the summer months but none really caught fire with the public like BE WITHOUT YOU did/has.
This is a very good album from start to finish with more than a few strong single tracks & 2 tracks that I deemed "filler".
Other than the aforementioned, BE WITHOUT YOU, my other favorite tracks are:
MJB DA MVP - magnificently covers her 14+ years in the industry and chronicles briefly critics' opinions of each release
CAN'T HIDE FROM LOVE - I swear she was channeling Aretha Franklin on this one!
ALONE - beautiful duet
AIN'T REALLY LOVE - classic MJB joint, loved the string arrangement
In my personal MJB album ranking system, this ranks a strong 5th behind: MY LIFE, MARY, SHARE MY WORLD, WHAT'S THE 411 but miles ahead of NO MORE DRAMA! Fans shouldn't be disappointed in this strong effort from the Queen of Hip Hop/Soul!