Mary J. Blige, 'My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act I)' (Matriarch/Geffen)

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My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act I)
Critical Mass
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Label: Matriarch/Geffen

by Peter S. Scholtes

For someone who heard her first hits played on the radio while still living in the projects, hip-hop soul's Queen of Pain has rarely repeated herself. Since taking more songwriting control with 1994's My Life, she has chased her wrenchingly emotional autobiography across every R&B style, cycling through producers like hairdos, often peaking on deep cuts. So forgive the clunky title, Dolly Parton-worthy schmaltz, and wack "Ain't Nobody" cover, and cherish such funky, mid-tempo beauties as "Irreversible," "Midnight Drive," and "Someone to Love Me (Naked)," where she gets name rappers to slow down like lovers.

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