Simply put, Mary is at her best with this album. It shows growth, maturity, and the ability to state that she is able to be consistent with making music for a good period of time. Since her first album in 1992 titled "What's The 411?", she has truly handled her business with making great music. It's so hard to still be able to "sell music" after your 20s in the entertainment business. You have to keep up with the times. Mary has done that, along with the help of fans who admire her professionally with still making music and personally with overcoming the bitter, harsh, and real things that any person can go through in their life. People have so many negative opinions about her from "She can't sing... She is a crackhead....She is no female vocalist..". However, these people fail to see that she can sing. No, she doesn't have Mariah Carey or Beyonce-like range and vocals. However, she sings totally from the soul and from the girl-around-the-way approach that anyone, especially women can relate. On top of that, she has overcome the use of marijuana and alcohol, along with past bad relationships along the way. She's finally self-confident to herself, her music and her life and is content with being the best Mary J. Blige she can be in her lifetime.
As for the album, I truly am impressed with "Smoke", "Fade Away", "Stay Down", "Hurt Again" and "Roses". All of these songs truly set the album at its best. Ne-Yo did an excellent job with writing and co-producing 4 songs off the album, "Smoke" being one of those songs he wrote. He did showcase and exemplify that Mary can sing songs beyond the "crying", "hurting" and the "pain", which Mary is truly signatured for with singing R&B/Hip-Hop/Soul songs (i.e. "My Life"). As for songs "Talk to Me" and "If You Love Me", Mary keeps us with what she is always been known for regarding songs coming from the soul grasping her straightforwardness when she sings about love-being in it, getting out of it and having gone through it. She sets her own standards with song expression like no other. From the rough, raw, soulful but realness in her voice, she has truly stood out and will forever do so.
Now, with reading this, "Should you buy the album?"...YES! If you are a true Mary J. Blige fan, you must do so. If you don't, that's fine. However, please respect the true fact that she is the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. Hate it or Love it!
This album is hot. I didn't realize I didn't have this one in my CD collection but I was too excited when I found it in vinyl format! The album cover is great and the album themselves plays beautifully! I was tempted to purchase the Amazon offering but I've learn from previous purchases, the Amazon offering comes in a generic black jacket with a sticker of the original artwork, so buyers beware if you are serious about your album's artwork. This jacket is awesome!
I give Mary J 5 stars I bought her cd when it first came out but had problems with computer to down load on my phone , so I bought her on my kindle and that went on my I phone. Mary J sings songs about real life happenings that you can relate to, love her music
Got cd earlier than expected which was great. The day I go to play he cd I open it up and to my surprise there was no mary j bilge cd in there but had best of en vogue. Since I love the group and even though I didn't receive what I ordered I love the cd.! Only problem now I have to order the Mary j blige cd all over again.