Mary J. Blige's My Life is one of my all-time favorite albums. In my opinion, it's a heart-wrenching emotional odyssey that explores the many shades, both light and dark (moreso dark), of romance.
From the rapturous desire of "You Bring Me Joy" and "I Never Wanna Live Without You," the anger and confusion of "Be With You" and "Mary's Joint," the sadness and desperation of "I'm Goin Down" and "I Love You" to the pleas for understanding and trust--both from a partner ("I'm The Only Woman," "You Gotta Believe") and from oneself ("My Life," "Be Happy") every facet of love and relationships is explored with punch-you-in-the-gut honesty.
Musically it offers everything--the quiet storm, the bedroom, the club/house party, riding in your car or even cleaning up the house. Meanwhile, the combination of old-school soul samples and hard-edge hip hop beats creates a sound that is both a modern re-imagining and an homage to tradition. All of which makes My Life one of the greatest R&B albums ever. If you disagree, then gird your loins and meet me in the comments section. Or if you agree, then meet me there and we can swap geeky MJB fan stories.
Anywho, one of my favorite tracks on the album is "Mary Jane (All Night Long)." One of My Life's few "happy" songs--though judging from the "I don't wanna fuss and fight/I just wanna make it right" lines, any lovin' Mary was getting at the time was more the exception than the rule--it melds Teddy Pendergrass's "Close The Door" and The Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long" to create a sexy, sensual vibe.
So color me surprised when I find that Mary and Puffy dropped a remix featuring some lip-licking rhymes by LL Cool J. Granted it's not a radical reworking--just a few dreamy synthesizers are added to the mix--but LL's verses provide an answer for what was originally a one-sided plea for affection. Listen to it below.