Breakthrough

Breakthrough

4.7 43
by Mary J. Blige
     
 

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On her seventh studio album, The Breakthrough, long-suffering queen of hip-hop soul Mary J. Blige sounds more confident and comfortable with her material than she did on 2003's uneven Love & Life. Although Blige has been saying for a while now that she wants no more drama, the recently wed New York native finally soundsSee more details below

Overview

On her seventh studio album, The Breakthrough, long-suffering queen of hip-hop soul Mary J. Blige sounds more confident and comfortable with her material than she did on 2003's uneven Love & Life. Although Blige has been saying for a while now that she wants no more drama, the recently wed New York native finally sounds convinced. From the jubilant opening track, "No One Will Do," to the melodic lead single, "Be Without You," Blige revels in the unconditional love that her husband has brought to her life. And clearly she's found a good man -- one who is patient enough to deal with his lady's difficult past, which she addresses on the plaintive "Baggage." Despite that song's repentant theme and the requisite "dump that zero and find yourself a hero" track ("Ain't Really Love"), the otherwise celebratory Breakthrough contains some of Blige's best music in years. Instant classics include the grown-and-sexy, Jay-Z-assisted "Can't Hide from Luv," the bluesy "I Found My Everything" (featuring Raphael Saadiq), and the nostalgic "MJB Da MVP," where Blige sings snippets of her greatest hits over the same vintage soul groove as the Game/50 Cent single "Hate It or Love It." Indeed, with her triumphant Breakthrough, Mary proves she's no longer buggin' and emerges -- once again -- as contemporary R&B's MVP.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Andy Kellman
At the end of 2005, Mary J. Blige's career was supposed to be anthologized. The singer had her way, however, and one of her best studio albums came out instead. In retrospect, her previous album, 2003's Love & Life, was awkward; the P. Diddy collaborations, likely intended to recapture the magic the duo put together on What's the 411? and My Life, didn't always pay off, and Blige was about to become a wife, so the songs steeped in heartbreak and disappointment weren't delivered with as much power as they had been in the past. The Breakthrough also contains some of the drama that fans expect, despite Blige's continued happiness, but it's clear that she has gained enough distance from the uglier parts of her past that she can inhabit them and, once again, deliver those songs. The past does play a significant role in the album, as in "Baggage," where she apologies to her husband for bringing it into their relationship. "Father in You" sounds like a note-perfect facsimile of a classic soul ballad, rising and falling and twisting with a sensitive string arrangement, but the lyrics are pure Blige, acknowledging the ways in which her husband has made up for the absence of her father. On the nearly anthemic "Good Woman Down," she sees a less matured version of herself in young women and uses her experiences to advise. She jacks the beat from the Game's "Hate It or Love It" for "MJB da MVP," where she reflects on her career, thanks her supporters, and reasserts her rightful position as the soul hip-hop queen. It's one of several tracks to beam with a kind of contentment and confidence that Blige has never before possessed. Take "Can't Hide from Love," where she's such a force that Jay-Z dishes out a quick introduction and knows to stay out of the way for the remainder of the track, or the glorious "I Found My Everything," her "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Beat for beat, the album features the best round of productions Blige has been handed since the mid-'90s. Apart from only a couple lukewarm tracks and a poorly recorded version of "One" with U2, it is completely correct.
Rolling Stone - Barry Walters
An empathetic supporting cast revitalizes the hip-hop soul queen on this seventeen-track set of particularly classy material.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/20/2005
Label:
Geffen Records
UPC:
0602498871102
catalogNumber:
000572202
Rank:
33376

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mary J. Blige   Primary Artist,Vocals
Bruce Dukov   Violin
Bobby Ross Avila   Guitar,Strings,Keyboards
Sid Page   Violin,String Instrument
Edge   Guitar
Robert Bacon   Guitar
Charlie Bisharat   String Instrument
Bono   Guitar,Vocals
Jacqueline Brand   Violin,String Instrument
Adam Clayton   Bass Guitar
Larry Corbett   Cello,String Instrument
Brian Dembow   Viola,String Instrument
Stephen Erdody   Cello,String Instrument
Ron Fair   Organ,Guitar,Harmonica,Piano,Conductor,Keyboards,Orchestra Bells
Julie Gigante   Violin,String Instrument
John Goux   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Endre Granat   Violin
Alan Grunfeld   String Instrument
Clayton Haslop   Violin,String Instrument
Paula Hochhalter   Strings,Cello,String Instrument
Bernard Kenny   Bass
Armen Ksadjikian   Cello,String Instrument
David Low   String Instrument
David Lowery   String Instrument
Rene Mandel   Violin
Harvey Mason   Glockenspiel,Timpani
Cornelius Mims   Bass
Larry Mullen   Percussion,Drums
Robin Olson   Violin
Katia Popov   Violin
Mark Robertson   Violin
Anatoly Rosinsky   Violin
Cecilia Tsan   Cello
Josefina Vergara   Violin,String Instrument
Dave Young   Track Performer
Raphael Saadiq   Bass,Guitar
Suzie Katayama   Cello,String Instrument
Natalie Leggett   Violin,String Instrument
Joel Deroin   String Instrument
Kelvin Wooten   Keyboards
James "Big Jim" Wright   Keyboards
Darrin McCann   Viola,String Instrument
Chalmers Alford   Guitar
will.i.am   Keyboards
South Central Chamber Orchestra   Strings
Loren Dawson   Piano
Roberto Cani   Violin,String Instrument
50 Cent   Vocals
Samuel Formicola   Viola,String Instrument
Alyssa Park   Violin,String Instrument
Andrew Duckles   Viola,String Instrument
Songa Lee   Violin,String Instrument
Robert Ozuna   Percussion,scratching,Drums
Tereza Stanislav   String Instrument
Frank Ramonoe   Guitar
Charles Vail   Strings
Issiah "IZ" Avila   Bass,Percussion,Drums
Craig Brokman   Piano
Endre Genet   String Instrument
Rexell Hardy   Drums
Brook Lynn   Track Performer
Frank Ramono   Guitar
South Central Orchestra   Strings
Victoria Miskolczy   Viola
Phillip Levy   Violin,String Instrument
Marlow Fisher   Viola,String Instrument
Mario de León   Violin,String Instrument
Lily Ho Chen   Violin,String Instrument
Matthew Funes   String Instrument
Keith Harris   Organ,Piano,Keyboards,Synthesizer Bass

Technical Credits

Freddie Jackson   Composer
Lonnie Liston Smith   Composer
Bunny Sigler   Composer
Bobby Ross Avila   Composer,Producer
Edge   Composer
Robert Aries   Composer
Mary J. Blige   Composer,Producer,Vocal Arrangements,Vocal Producer
Bono   Composer
Leslie Bricusse   Composer
Sean Carter   Composer
Adam Clayton   Composer
Patrick Dillett   Engineer,Vocal Producer
Reginald Dozier   Engineer
Ron Fair   Producer,Vocal Arrangements,String Arrangements,Vocal Producer
Allan Felder   Composer
Larry Gold   String Arrangements
Bernie Grundman   Mastering
Norman Harris   Composer
Jimmy Jam   Producer
Terry Lewis   Composer,Producer
Larry Mullen   Composer
Anthony Newley   Composer
Allen Sides   Engineer
Troy Taylor   Vocal Producer
Ryan Toby   Composer
Benjamin F. Wright   String Arrangements,String Conductor,String Writing
Rodney Jerkins   Composer,Producer
Raphael Saadiq   Composer,Producer
Jan Fairchild   Engineer
Paul Foley   Engineer
Andre Harris   Composer,Producer,Instrumentation
James "Big Jim" Wright   Producer
will.i.am   Composer,Engineer
Johnta Austin   Composer,Vocal Producer
Drew FitzGerald   Art Direction
Dave Young Orchestra   Vocal Producer
Vidal Davis   Composer,Producer,Instrumentation
Tal Herzberg   Producer,Engineer,Digital Editing
Jason Perry   Composer
Justice League   Producer
Jake & the Phatman   Producer
Infinity   Producer
Bryan-Michael Cox   Composer,Producer,String Arrangements,Instrumentation
Curtis Jackson   Composer
Matt Marrin   Engineer
Candice Childress   Composer
John Tanksley   Engineer
Kendu Isaacs   Management
Keri Hilson   Composer,Vocal Arrangements
9th Wonder   Producer
Ezekiel Lewis   Composer
Michael Eleopoulos   Engineer
Robert Ozuna   Composer
Anthony Lavon Evans   Engineer
Davel "Bo" McKenzie   Producer
Sean Garrett   Composer,Vocal Producer
Candice Nelson   Composer
Charles "Biscuits" Brungardt   Vocal Producer
Issiah "IZ" Avila   Producer
Dernst Emile   Composer
Jayceon Taylor   Composer
Anthony "Devyne" Evans   Engineer
Danny "Stems" Cheung   Engineer
Jaycen Joshua   Engineer
Diana Gordon   Composer
Keith Harris   Composer

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