The hunt for the next “queen” of the many genre’s has become routine for Pop enthusiasts nowadays.
Yet, amidst all the heated conversations and strong disagreements that some acts’ fan bases get into, one diva has yet to find a suitable successor: the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul herself, Ms. Mary J. Blige.
This week, From The Vault celebrates the artist’s eternal relevancy with one of her biggest hits, ’Be Without You’.
Released at the end of Summer of 2005 as the first offering from the artist’s seventh album ‘The Breakthrough’, ‘Without You’ is a beat-driven ballad produced by Bryan-Michael Cox and written by Johntà Austin (alongside Blige). Interestingly, the pair are particularly notable for their popularisation of the “beat ballad” that year – as evidenced by their work with a certain Mariah Carey – whose comeback with the ‘Emancipation’ was largely attributed to that sound.
But we digress…
The trio of titans came up with was a gem that helped put Mary back on top after the so-so performance of the underrated ‘Love & Life’ LP.
Peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, the record was the most successful song on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop spending 15 consecutive weeks at #1 up until 2013 (it has since been surpassed by Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ last year). In 2006 it was #11 on the US Year-End chart.
Matthew Rolston was brought on board to translate the emotional track in a visual capacity and we’re sure you’d concur that he did a stellar job. Featuring Academy Award-nominated actor Terrence Howard as Mary’s love interest, the clip mirrors the message relayed in the song’s lyrics. More specifically, the notion that one should never give up on pure and real love (pun intended) despite all the hardships that come along the way.
With this gem, Mary delivered yet another heartfelt song that is so emotive that it almost makes one want to lived the lyrics, whether good, bad, or otherwise. Perhaps that’s the reason why she remains untouchable to this day; the passion she embeds in her music is somehow contagious and is the epitome of “feel” music. Case in point, THAT haunting climax on ”Without You’ – it’s both a vocal exclamation mark and, in one belted note, embodies all that the song is about. It’s a skill so many of today’s acts likely wish for and, no doubt, could benefit from.
With new album ‘The London Sessions’ due this Fall, Mary J. continues to amaze us 23 years in her career and quite frankly we can’t really see it stoping anytime soon.
All Hail The Queen!