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Mary J. Blige
love & life

Despite the huge success of recent releases No More Drama and Mary, the Queen of Hip hop Soul a.k.a. Mary J. Blige has taken a step back into the old school on love & life. With the help of Bad Boy producer P. Diddy, who masterminded her debut, What's the 411?, the singer almost effortlessly produces another great album.

On first single "Love @ 1st Sight," Blige reunites with Method Man, proving their musical relationship to be strong as ever. The track also offers up some of Blige's most powerful vocals on the disc, backed up by Diddy's sampling of A Tribe Called Quest's "Hot Sex." 50 Cent shows up on "Let Me Be the 1" to deliver a couple of pimp lines to this silk flow. What's Diddy sampling here? "I'll Bet You" from Jackson 5. "Not Today" is one of several fed-up female anthems here, backed by the pit bull herself, Eve. This is the only track on love & life with a different producer: the infamous Dr. Dre. He didn't sample anything either.

Although these collaborations are great and essential for the feel of the record, Blige's greatest power lies in the loneliest number. "Don't Go" is an emotional begging and pleading for a straying partner (Diddy samples Lou Donaldson's "The Long Goodbye" on this one). "When We" is classic R&B at its best, a song all about the power of good love-making (Diddy samples Marvin Gaye's "I Want You").

"Friends" is the track we've heard on many other Blige records (How could you call yourself a friend/Uh-oh there goes that word again/That brings people together and tears them apart). "Press On" and "It's a Wrap" fail in the same respect.

"Ultimate Relationship (A.M.)" closes the album with the soothing collaboration of vocals and guitar. Blige states it best: I have to admit this is the way/To start the day. Whether it be screaming for no more drama, searching for some real love or saying she's not gonna cry, Mary J. Blige keeps it real. And this is definite with her brand new love & life.

Crystal at 11/24/2004 01:13:00 PM

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