Album: Mary J. Blige

Fayrfax Masses/ Asv
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The Independent Culture

Once upon a time, soul-phobic indie types used to enjoy mis-spelling Mary J's surname as "Bilge", and oh, how we laughed. Now that only the most backward have failed to notice that black American pop is setting the sonic agenda, it's time that the first lady of R&B received the respect she deserves. A Missy who can (really) sing as well as rap, a Whitney without the histrionics, there's little Mary J can't do, and she's smart enough to enlist expert help, including Dr Dre, The Neptunes and Missy herself. 75 minutes of crisp urban soul and late-night ballads.