Mary J. Blige & Kanye West’s Collabo Is a True Labor of (Self) Love (Video)

Mary J. Blige has always kept it real in her music, pouring her heart(break) and soul into songs about love. Since her triple-platinum 1992 solo debut What’s the 411?, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul has blazed a trail for women in music, providing anthem after anthem for anyone who has ever been in love. When Strength of a Woman drops next month, MJB will 13 solo albums deep, but the new LP may prove to be one of her most empowering to date. A divorce from her partner of 12 years has forced her to face great pain, but as she’s always done, she’s channeling it into her art, and she’s bringing along some exceptionally gifted friends. The album will feature Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled, Kaytranada, and Kanye West.


Mary J. Blige Channels Her Pain Into Another Timeless Love Song (Audio)

Today (March 30), Mary J. has unveiled “Love Yourself,” a West-produced record that proves even self-love can have a bumpin’ beat to it. It’s the first record on the album, which may signify her desire to place her own happiness as the primary focus in her life now, post-divorce. Kanye being on a record called “Love Yourself” may induce some chuckling, but after his highly publicized battle with mental-health issues, hearing him on such a triumphant homage to self-care is, if nothing else, an indicator of his improvement. As Mary sings “you have to love yourself if you really wanna be with somebody else,” West delivers an aggressive verse that flips the concept of the song and applies it to his people. He raps about kid of color being shot and the lack of justice their families face, making this more than just a love song in the romantic sense.

Earlier today, Mary J. Blige spoke with Funkmaster Flex about working with Kanye West, and expressed her admiration for his work. Strength of a Woman is slated for an April 28 arrival.