"I'm talkin' 'bout things I know," Mary J. Blige wails on "Work That," the second single and opening track of Growing Pains. The album squeaked into 2007 too late to make best-of lists but otherwise would have stormed its way up several, for sure. She needn't have hit us with such a pronouncement: In 16 songs that ring as remarkably, unflinchingly true as those on 2005's landmark The Breakthrough, the queen of hip-hop soul keeps "keeping it real" a specialty. There's no sense in trying to assign credit for the skin-tight grooves and funked-up retro vibe here; with nine producers padding Blige's emotion-rich voice and the lyrics she so obviously lives by, what we're left with is a melange of sounds. But it's a measure of an artist who has mastered her own identity and left nothing to chance that this, her eighth studio album, comes off so free of wild cards and loose edges. "You ask what love feels like," she sings on "What Love Is," one of the disc's less fierce tracks. "It feels like joy, and it feels like pain, and it feels like sunshine, and it feels like rain," she continues, answering the question. The album feels the same way, a passel of complex feelings all wrapped up in love. No one knows struggle, heartache, and triumph over mediocrity like Blige. --Tammy La Gorce
Geffen Records superstar and hit-making songwriter Mary J. Blige, is set to follow-up the most successful album of her career, the triple platinum The Breakthrough, with her eighth (8th) studio CD Growing Pains.
Growing Pains includes the single "Just Fine" which has become an instant favorite on radio and on MTV, BET and VH-1. The second single from Growing Pains, "Work That," is currently featured in an Apple I-Pod commercial.
After selling over 40 million CDs and garnering six Grammy Awards during her phenomenal 15-year career, Mary is confident that her fans will not be disappointed with Growing Pains. "They're going to get a sense of what my state of mind is and how I view the world," she says. "And hopefully, most of all, they're going to hear just the sincere honesty and love that I have for them." She adds, "Growing Pains represents accepting that there's pain that goes along with growing and change. No pain, no gain."
Growing Pains, with Mary co-writing most of the songs on the album, features guest appearances by Ludacris and Usher and production by The Neptunes, Jazze Pha, Johnta Austin, Neyo, Stargate, Bryan-Michael Cox, Dre and Vidal, Tricky, Dream, and Sean Garrett.
Mary makes her message loud, clear and seriously funky on the first release "Just Fine" produced by Jazze Pha and Tricky and co-written by Mary and Dream. A celebration of life, "Just Fine" gives you Mary fierce, and as the video shows, glamorous. The song's vibe? "Sometimes it feels like you're having this miserable time, like all 365 days of the year are tough. But then, you get one of those days; maybe when your hair is great, or you're not stuck in traffic; where it's a `just fine' day. At some point," Mary laughs, "You've got have one or two of those."
The party and positivity keeps on keeping on with the rump shaking second single "Work That." Mary comments, "When I meet a woman who doesn't know what to do about her weight or her hair I always say - `whatever it is that you have, make that work for you, Work what you got.'"
After releasing her bestselling anthology Reflections last year, Growing Pains is Mary's first CD of new material since The Breakthrough debuted at #1 in 2005, selling over 700,000 copies its first week -- the best opening week for a solo R&B female artist in SoundScan history. The album's first single, "Be Without You," also made chart history by holding down the #1 spot on the Billboard R&B charts for a record breaking 16 straight weeks; making it the longest-running No. 1 song on the R&B chart in over 40 years. Mary led all artists with eight 2007 Grammy nominations for the landmark album, and she took home honors for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song (both for "Be Without You"), and Best R&B Album. After earning three Grammy Awards, she continued her award show domination by winning nine Billboard Music Awards, two American Music Awards, two BET Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, and a Soul Train Award. The Breakthrough lived up to its name selling over seven million copies worldwide.
More from Mary J. Blige
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