No female Hip-hop and R&B singer has the captured all audiences like Mary J. Blige has done for the past 15 years. Her most anticipated 8th studio album (not counting her three underground albums) starts off with her Apple IPOD single ” Work That.” The mid-tempo, nod-your-head track is inspiring women to be comfortable with who they are inside and out. “Go head and hold your head high cause your a pretty women, get your runway stride girl keep it going, girl live your life,” lets women know that she (Blige) has confidence to lead now.The album is very different from her past albums, where she reflected on her past when dealing with domestic violence, drug-abuse, unhappiness and living without a father. She now shows her women-hood on tracks like “Grown Women” and ” Feel Like a Women.” The 6-time Grammy- award winner teamed up with Ludacris for “Grown Woman”. In an anthem for women in which she shows how a woman can be desirable even if she shows less skin.
On her first single “Just Fine” she tells the story about feeling free and doing what she wants to do. She displays maturity and personal growth on that single along with “Work In Progress (Growing Pains),” when she explains that she want her man to look past her celebrity status and see the real Mary. Although the love for herself is lacking a little, she tells her fans she different than a regular person. ” Just like you, sometimes I get down, sometimes I want to cry, sometimes I get depressed…Sometimes we fall but don’t we all,” she sings.
Blige plays the mournful woman during the guitar groove of Fade Away and promises her man she’s ” We just like Weezy, baby … the wife of George and we’re movin’ on up” during Stay Down. However, Blige wraps with a five-minute stunner. Come to Me (Peace) has a hint of a movie theme and casts her in a touching lyrical light. “I’ll restore your freedom,” she pleads. “I’m here to make peace.”
Unlike The Breakthrough, there is not a hit single close to the magnitude of ” Be Without You.” Most people had to grow on ” Just Fine,” but Mary seems to offer her fans something different. She talks about real life issues and lets her fans know that even though the drama is behind her, she still is faced with issues everyday beyond her control. “Growing Pains” is about life and the struggles that everybody faces, and the way one should overcome them.
4 1/4 out of 5