Mary J. Blige
With hip-hop increasingly a boys-only drug cartel, it's not surprising that the top urban hit makers are increasingly females in the R&B genre. Like Alicia Keys on her recent chart-topper As I Am, Mary J. Blige plays things safe on her own new blockbuster CD, Growing Pains. The album functions mainly as relationship therapy. "You know love is a process," she sings on "Talk to Me," "and it ain't gonna happen overnight. So be patient with my shortcomings." (A reference to her alleged steroids use, perhaps?) "Feel Like a Woman," is an anti-feminist ballad: "If you're on your way home, stop and buy me something. Boy, buy me a bag, or buy me some shoes," she begs. Why she would trust a heterosexual man's taste on these matters is a mystery, but no matter. On this largely tensionless work, one wishes Blige would bring the drama, or at least a dramatic-sounding track on the order of "Be Without You" or "Family Affair." Sadly, the production is exceedingly conservative, with the exception of "Come to Me (Peace)," the album's electronic-accented closer. Produced by Tricky Stewart, it's the only song on the disc that feels epic the way a Mary J. track should.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.