Mary J. is A-OK

Is Mary J. Blige still the reigning queen of hip-hop soul? It was looking iffy a few years ago, when she released her lukewarm Love & Life, an awkward attempt to reconcile her usual gritty themes of abusive relationships and ghetto drama with an increasingly happy personal life — newly married, kicked cocaine, found God. On 2005's phenomenal The Breakthrough, however, the streetwise-yet-vulnerable Blige found a way to look back insightfully on her painful past through the lens of a content, mature woman — and the album (and her glorious, emotion-packed voice) is accordingly powerful and poignant. Even a collaboration with U2 on a cover of their song "One," which sounds abysmal on paper, comes off terrific.
Wed., Oct. 22, 7 p.m., 2008
 
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