Mary J. Blige & Grand Puba Shut Down YO! MTV Raps. That’s The 411. (Video)
Mary J. Blige’s Hip-Hop collaborations may as well be a genre of their own. The Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul has worked on heralded albums such as Ghostface Killah’s Ironman, Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation…, and Nas’ Life Is Good, among many, many others. However, when it comes to true, palpable chemistry, there was something especially charming about M.J.B. sharing the mic with Grand Puba.
Before the two luminaries from above Uptown worked together on a single from Puba’s stellar solo debut, Reel To Reel, Mary J. recruited Maxwell for 1992’s What’s The 411? three months earlier. The Masters Of Ceremony/Brand Nubian standout joined Elektra Records label-mate Busta Rhymes, and Greg Nice, as the lone Hip-Hop guests on the breakthrough, triple-platinum LP. Besides executive producer Puff Daddy, the Uptown/MCA Records effort had Mark Morales behind the boards, the MC formerly known as Prince Markie Dee of the Fat Boys. Hip-Hop was at the core of the album, and Mary’s style, her vernacular, subject matter, and overall attitude represented the culture. Samples from Audio Two, Schoolly D, Biz Markie, and MC Lyte colored the way.
Although more than three million people would come to find “Real Love,” “Sweet Thing,” and “You Remind Me” to be potent, the album’s marketing cleverly went to the streets. Thereby, in 1992, Grand Puba Maxwell and Mary J. Blige performed the title track on “Yo! MTV Raps.” “What’s The 411?” is not an official single from the 12-track LP. Although, by DJs, the Ohio Players-sampling song was a club favorite. While Uptown may have had different plans, the performance on Ed Lover & Dr. Dré’s show proves that it could have been. In this rare performance, New Rochelle and Yonkers’ finest show their closeness. The pair that would work again had something special in their unmistakable vocal tones. Puba’s witty whimsicality, and Mary’s heartfelt projection, this moment “got all the information” that was needed.
Puba gives Diddy the ill shout out on this one.
#Bonus Beat: Don’t forget the remix of this song, featuring Jodeci’s K-Ci Hailey, and an Uptown hopeful named Biggie Smalls (n/k/a The Notorious B.I.G.):