If you’ve loved hip hop since the 90’s then you should know all about Mary J. Blige. She’s been around since the days when P Diddy was called Sean “Puffy” Combs and Dr Dre was producing the big hits in the genre including one of Mary’s biggest tracks Family Affair. It’s been 20 plus years and with a dozen or so studio albums and numerous collaborations, Mary continues to add to her existing music catalog with her latest album; the soundtrack to Think Like A Man Too. Being inspired by the movie Mary wrote an albums worth of music including production from the best in the world of RnB including guest features by Pharrell and The Dream.
The album starts with a rather lackluster reincarnation of the 80’s RnB group Shalamar’s hit A Night To Remember. The song is an almost identical arrangement to the original without the organic feel and genuine funk that the original has. Mary’s voice is quite low on this track and doesn’t seem to really cut through the mix. In a similar way Moment of Love keeps her voice in a lower than normal register. Both tracks are RnB/Dance numbers which an artist like Beyonce would be more suited to.
The album has some nice features, especially the Pharrell written number See That Boy Again. It has a similar vibe and energy to Stevie Wonders Another Star with a nice use of strings and horns while incorporating multi layered harmonies which Pharrell has become well known for, particularly over the past couple of years. It is a nice number to break away from the dominant Hip Hop and RnB feel of the rest of the album. Pharrell seems to have that magic touch to anything he does including a voice that suits the song perfectly while The Dream adds a classy club atmosphere to slick RnB inclusion, Vegas Nights.
Cargo and Wonderful are more typical Mary J Blige songs to be found on this new soundtrack collection. They both have classic Hip Hop 90’s drum samples with some deep bass lines and colorful key arrangements. While the track is a memorable on for the album, it does have a considerable amount of vocal effects added to it as well as a touch of auto tune that takes us away from the raw soulful quality that Blige has become famous for throughout her catalogue.
This isn’t the Mary J Blige collection that I was hoping for. Her voice has aged and the fact that songs are written in a lower range maybe a sign that Mary knows it as well. While the songs on the record are relatively catchy and well produced, they simply do not match the usual output we are used to from the RnB superstar.