Time must really be moving on if Mary J. Blige is turning 40. Sometimes I still think of her as the girl clad in combat boots and a jersey, wailing about searching for a "Real Love." Or the blond chanteuse with the bubble jacket and Florence Henderson haircut (Check the video lol:) who just wanted to be happy. I could go on, cause lawd knows I love some Mary. No other singer has had a greater influence on female R&B in the last two decades, with the possible exception of of Beyonce.
Every new singer with just a hint of grit in her voice (Fantasia, Keyshia Cole, Jazmine Sullivan) is compared to her. Pop stars like Britney, Lady Gaga, Fergie and Nelly Furtado have done songs with rappers and incorporated hip hop-style beats into their music. Even my grand diva Madonna has taken a page or two from Mary J's playbook (listen to Bedtime Stories and compare it to My Life). While she's definitely had her ups and downs over the years, Mary has triumphed and secured her status as an R&B icon. Happy Birthday to the Queen of Hip Hop Soul! Listen to a few of Mary's hits below: