Released: August 17, 1999
Genre: R&B • Neo Soul
Producer: Mary J. Blige • Babyface • Rich Harrison • Gerald Isaac • Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis • Lauryn Hill • Malik Pendleton • Soulshock & Karlin • Chucky Thompson
In loving memory of Carl "Chucky" Thompson 1968-2021
Mary J. Blige was a force in the 1990s, giving us classics back to back. By 1999, Mary was a household name and one of the leading ladies in R&B. With three classic albums under her belt (What’s The 411, My Life & Share My World,) Mary was deemed the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and totally lived up to the title.
Mary’s follow up to Share My World is the eponymous fourth studio album Mary. A huge departure from anything that she has done in her career, Mary is an album that pushed her away from urban to adult contemporary in a nutshell. It showcases Mary’s artistic growth and versatility as an artist with elements of Neo soul, classical & 70s inspired soulful music. Everything about Mary is pure greatness, & while it came as a shock to critics and fans, it has since become one of Blige’s most appreciated works while still being heavily underrated in my opinion.
Mary was released August 17, 1999, with first week sales of 239, 000 copies in the United States. Also, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, and number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart (her fourth album to top the chart). Mary has since been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA, and received critical acclaim for its greatness.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you Mary J. Blige’s Mary.
All That I Can Say featuring Lauryn Hill
Written by Lauryn Hill
We definitely deserved so many collaborations from Mary & Lauryn Hill because this song SLAPS & IS HOW YOU WANT TO KICK OFF AN ALBUM. Previously having a duet on Lauryn’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the lead single on the album was All That I Can Say was written & produced by the hip-hop legend.
Everything about All That I Can Say is purely magic. The production alone gets is flawless. Th lyrical content is mature and refreshing. Just a song you have to do a chef’s kiss to!
The record was a top ten hit on the R&B charts, peaking at number six…and gained aIt is very reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s Superwoman (Where Were You?)
Sexy featuring Jadakiss
Written by Mary J. Blige • Jason Phillips • Stevie Wonder • Susaye Greene
You were saying Mary!!!!-Mary J. Blige, 1999
Sexy is definitely one of my favorite records on the album. You get that hip hop soul from Mary that we love so much. Jadakiss is featured on the song, and as usual he comes through being the lyricist that he is! The song contains a Sample of Michael Jackson’s I Can’t Help It.
Deep Inside featuring Elton John
Written by Mary J. Blige • Tara Geter • Kevin Deane • Elton John • Bernie Taupin
The second single from the album was the amazing Deep Inside!!! From a lyrical standpoint, the singer discusses how she wish she could be viewed as a normal person and questions the motives of lovers and friends by wondering if they would be around if it wasn’t the glitz and glamour. She also speaks about the difficulty finding someone to trust. The song features Elton John who plays the piano for the instrumental of this song that is very reminiscent of his own hit record Bennie & The Jets.
Written by Cecil Ward • Rich Harrison • Burt Bacharach • Hal David
The day I get married, Beautiful Ones is definitely being played in HEAVY ROTATION!! It is definitely a gem in Mary’s catalog. Produced by Rich Harrison & frequent collaborator Chucky Thompson, the immaculate ballad contains a sample of Earl Klugh’s The April fools.
I’m in Love
Written by Ronnie Wilson • Lonnie Wilson
A common theme on a Mary record is a cover of a R&B classic, and it didn’t stop with her self titled album! I’m In Love is a SONGGGGG! A cover of The Gap Band’s remarkable version, I’m In Love is a ballad with very mellow, quiet storm like production..but the lyrics speaks to your spirit and make you want to find someone to fall in love with so bad.
Written by Mary J. Blige • Chucky Thompson • Stevie Wonder
If I had my way
Life would be just fine
But the world is too much
And it makes me cry
Sometimes I feel like leaving
But I must be wise
Because time is not on our side-Mary J. Blige, 1999.
The socially aware Time is one of my all-time Mary records period. From a lyrical perspective, the song has Mary wishing the world was a different, yet better place. The song speaks volumes to everything that goes on in the world today as well, and that is a well enough reason to blast this at the highest volumes. The song is built around a sample of Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise.
Written by Carsten Schack • Kenneth Karlin • Chanette Higgens • Channoah Higgens • Mary J. Blige
How come men nowadays
bring you so much joy, and so much pain?Mary J. Blige, 1999
Memories is a type of song that you play on Valentine’s Day when you’ve been hurt by the person that took your love for granted. From a lyrical standpoint, the singer speaks of the memories of the good times with her former lover. She wants to reach out to them, but she knows that things will never be the same.
Don’t Waste Your Time (Duet with Aretha Franklin)
Don’t Waste Your Time is one of the highlights of the album, mainly due to the fact that the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul & the Queen of Soul were on a track together!! & was produced by Babyface?! it’s a pure gem.
Not Lookin’ (duet with K-Ci Hailey of Jodeci & K-Ci & Jojo)
Written by Mary J. Blige • Jean Morris • Dean Hostler
I am a sucker for a Mary & K-Ci duet, y’all. Not Lookin’ is a tale of two people explaining to one another what they’re not looking for. The man is not looking for the romance and love affair we aspire to want. He sounds like he basically wants a one night stand. & the woman said SHE IS NOT LOOKING FOR NO PLAYER SHIT!!! lmaooo. Not Lookin’ is one of my favorite highlights from the album though
Written by Gerald Isaac
IF YOU & YOUR FAMILY DON’T COLLECTIVELY SING THIS SONG TOGETHER, are you really a family? Your Child was the final single released from the album, and was a top 30 hit on the R&B charts..peaking at number 23.
The song tells a story of how the singer’s partner had a baby with another woman while in a relationship with Mary and how the women are handling the situation in an adult like way. However, she expressed how she feels about how she can never be with this man, especially if he is denying his child.
No Happy Holidays
Written by Mary J. Blige • Kiyamma Griffin • Tara Geter
The album follows up with the phenomenal record No Happy Holidays. No Happy Holidays is a song about how the singer feels disappointed by her “man” on every holiday literally, and how she has to say goodbye to him because he is going to continue to break her heart if she allows him to.
The Love I Never Had featuring Paulinho Da Costa
Written by James Harris III • Terry Lewis • James Wright • Mary J. Blige
The Love I Never Had reunites Mary with the legendary production duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis!!
Give Me You featuring Eric Clapton
Give Me You is one of my favorites from Mary overall. From a lyrical perspective, Mary speaks about not caring about being given all of the materialistic things a man can buy or even bringing the world to her, just bring yourself. whew! I l felt every lyric. The song was a top 20 hit, peaking at number 19 in the UK and number 21 on the R&B charts.
Let No Man Put Asunder
Written by Bruce Gray • Bruce Hawes
Mary shines on the cover of First Choice’s Let No Man Put Asunder. The song closes out the US version of the album, and it is the perfect song to do so, because it is a whole bop.
As (Duet with George Michael)
Written by Stevie Wonder
On international pressings of the album, the cover of Stevie Wonder’s As featuring George Michael appear on the album. I am usually not a big fan of Stevie Wonder’s songs being covered, but George & Mary did what they had to do!
US Limited Edition Enchanced Bonus CD
Sincerity featuring Nas & DMX
Written by Kenny Kornegay ・Mary J. Blige ・Earl Simmons ・Nasir Jones
I LOVE SINCERITY y’all! Everything about this song is hip hop soul, and it is truly an amazing record and should’ve been added to the original pressing of the album. Featuring Nas & DMX, Sincerity is a song about wanting a relationship where you are not feeling used for once. I think we all know how that feels. The song contains a sample of the Bob James’ instrumental “Nautilus.”
Written by Aston Taylor ・Mary J. Blige ・Joseph Brim ・James Heard ・Lorenzo Grooms ・Anthony Prendatt ・Alphonse Constant ・Patrick Harvey
Y’all had Mary messed up on Confrontation! She had to let y’all know what time it is and how y’all need to mind your business.
Japanese Album Version
Almost Gone featuring Lalah Hathaway
Written by Lalah Hathaway
Almost Gone is such a beautiful record! Featuring the immaculate Lalah Hathaway, the ladies sound so incredible harmonizing together on one record. It’s a shame how it wasn’t included on US versions of the album. WHEW!
The Mary album needs to be discussed more when it comes to flawless R&B albums damn it! Mary often gets overlooked compared to her biggest works, but Mary understood the assignment and passed with flying colors. It is Mary at her complete best, and I will die on that hill forever! Appreciate this peace of work! -MW.