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What's The 411?

4.8 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Media Type: CD
Artist: BLIGE,MARY J.
Title: WHAT'S THE 411?
Street Release Date: 07/28/1992
Domestic
Genre: SOUL/R & B

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Perhaps the true test of a classic is this: something that's commonplace now but at the time appeared revolutionary. The notion that a female R&B singer could be as informed by the Real Roxanne as she was by Aretha Franklin, that she could give love to the streets and the roughnecks--while still delivering soul-drenched love songs that came from that wounded womanly space--was, in a word, groundbreaking. It was the sound of the New Jills, and of a new genre, aptly called hip-hop soul. Featuring production from a then-upstart Puffy, and a collection of songs that alternately swagger and seduce--"You Remind Me," "Real Love," "Reminisce"--What's the 411? may not be Blige's finest work (that honor may go to its moody follow-up, My Life). But its ghetto-fied grooves dominated the radio then, and they still sound fierce today, even with a slew of lesser imitators attempting to do what the rough and ready Blige did so effortlessly back in the day. --Amy Linden
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 28, 1992)
  • Original Release Date: July 28, 1992
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Uptown
  • ASIN: B000002OME
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,288 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Mary J. Blige Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Brent Faulkner, Jr. VINE VOICE on June 13, 2006
Format: 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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I've heard many, many Mary albums over the years. In fact, I've heard all of them except her new one coming out later this month. This one ranks up there as one of her very best. A lot of people think that the artist's crowning achievement is often their first album and then it's downhill from there. I get that sentiment here. And although with Mary, the album that everyone tends to boast as her magnum opus is actually My Life. However, that doesn't take away from this album's greatness.

Mary was a fresh face in the game back in '92. She wasn't Mariah. She wasn't Whitney. She was hip-hop's answer to Aretha Franklin some claim. And Diddy was a big part in all of this, producing much of the album, and creating that hip-hop soul sound which was so fresh and lives on in R&B's world of today. Being crowned as R&B's next Aretha Franklin was definitely big shoes to fill and although I don't quite think she fulfills that void, there was and still is no doubt that Mary definitely brings something great to the world of R&B. Her voice had rasp, depth and a deep enough power to captivate and mesmerize. The lyrics in her songs also rang true for people going through hard times which would become one of Mary's staples.

This disc on hand is great though. It is groovy, very sensual and has a great soul to it. The majority of the songs here achieve with great success the joys and pains of what love is and Mary sounds ever so convincing and engaged.

4.4 stars.

DOWNLOAD:
"Changes I've Been Going Through"
"Reminisce"
"Sweet Thing" &
"Real Love"

HONORABLE MENTION(s):
"Love No Limit"
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Format: 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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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
How "My Life" and "What's The 411?" never got that many awards as they should is beyond me. Both albums are often praised as being Mary J. at her finest. I remember seeing those albums along with "Share My World" being featured in music clubs ads like BMG or Columbia House, the days where you would subscribed to these clubs to get your CDs at a monthly price. I never really paid attention to her or her music that much back then, but I always did liked her singles "Family Affair", "No More Drama", and "Be Without You". I was much more into pop artists back then, but since getting older I feel like I'm in the mood for more RnB music. It was recommended to me that I should listen to her first three albums first, then work my way down to the rest of her discography. I've bought "What's The 411?" and "My Life", and from what I've heard so far those two are definitely the ones I like the best from Mary J. I have to give an edge to "My Life" though. I could just feel the pain and hurt thru her singing and it resonates well in her songs. I've read a comment a person had made on Instagram saying that she made the best music when she was depressed. I have to agree on that, even though I don't wish it on anyone to be in that emotional and mental state in their lives. I'm glad that Mary was able to find peace and joy later on in her life. There isn't a single track on the album that I don't like. Just like "My Life", "What's The 411?" also encapsulates 70s soul music with a modern twist. This album is a trailblazer for mixing in hip hop music with smooth, RnB vocals why she is known for "Queen of Hip Hop Soul".Read more ›
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