Mary J. Blige 

The Breakthrough

In December's Vibe, Mary J. Blige announced that even though she's comfortable revealing her abs in photographs, "I ain't giving you titty, nipple, pubic hair, or damn near clitoris." This actually runs counter to the nature of her career, which trades in songs often airing love's dirtiest details: the breakups, betrayals, and backstabbings that drive a woman to music as deeply felt as "Real Love" and "No More Drama." On The Breakthrough, Blige's seventh studio album, she continues to offer up emotional unmentionables, but stuffed with productions by high-end knob-twirlers like Raphael Saadiq, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and of the Black Eyed Peas. It also contains the glossiest material we've yet heard from the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, which begs the question: Will Mary's bling dampen her blues? Not yet. Even when describing finding her everything, Blige sings with the raw hurt of someone who has looked for too long. And on "MJB da MVP" -- a recounting of Blige's career set over the Game's "Hate It or Love It" -- she sounds proud but anxious, as if her music's ability could fail her at any time.


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