Brown Sugar: by @AngieC415 (MJB)
2 August 2011 Brown Sugar
I was 10 when what’s the 411 album dropped. It was like the 1st cassette I owned ,that I bought w/ “my own money”. 10!! That means for the greater part of my life I’ve been influenced by the lyrics, beats, hair colors, and attitudes of Ms Mary J Blige! I’m 29 now and until I was about 20 or so Mary could literally do no wrong in my eyes. Every song was perfect and spoke to my emotions. When she sang I’m going Down, I along with other females in cities across the world went down right with her. When she sang Be Happy it seemed to sum up every feeling, & every bad day. Mary spoke for US. Who’s us? Women who would now be anywhere from 25 to near 40. Women who were a little rough around the edges ,a little street. Women who loved Wu Tang & Whitney! Hood Girls & Sorority Sisters. She somehow at that moment spoke for all of US. She was our coming of age soundtrack. She experienced heartbreak and moments, brief hints, of Joy. I’m not saying anything new but w/ her recent episode on VH1s behind the music all the “pretty memories” come rushing back to me. I clearly recall summa’s in 92/93 trying get my ponytail to pop out the top of my baseball cap. Rocking a jersey and shades and swearing I was Mary. We were the female hip hop generation previously spoken for by the femcees of the 80s & 90s but now Mary hit the pain of love & life that they missed. She made the song cry! My Life might as well be the only album that existed the year it dropped (it wasn’t but u feel me). W/ samples from Curtis Mayfield to the Mary Jane Girls to Issac Hayes Mary said things we needed to hear. When i got older i realized Mary was a little off vocally/ technically and really didn’t smile a lot. When I turned 19/20 & the Mary LP then No More Drama were released I was old enough to absorb that someone w/ such grit and pain in their voice had to be experiencing things beyond my understanding. I paid attention more to the person who had touched so many. I saw that Mary was broken and insecure but ALWAYS kept hanging in there, & kept giving us music. I remember as she evolved and left behind some of her listeners who were still broken , people hated on “no more drama”. Claimed it wasn’t street that it didn’t speak to “us” anymore. How selfish to expect an artist or a person period to stay where they started in ’92. Mary was not proclaiming that she was perfect but she was in a different place. She began her career on tracks w/ like Father MC, & hit hard w/ Meth (best R&B/hip hop Collabo EASY), but was now creating music w/ Bono & numerous other huge stars. She wasn’t living in the projects of Yonkers she was international. But those who didnt hate kept a special place in our iTunes where both Mary’s could exist the around the way girl & the mogul. I keep all my Mary albums in rotation cuz some days I need to here real love, you remind me, reminisce, love no limit & SWEET THING all in sequence but some days Just Fine and I Feel Good sum me up perfectly. The point is that the essence of who Mary J is still speaks to women of varying ages and backgrounds and gives us something to hum in project buildings and Bentleys. And everywhere in between. She’s still just Mary and she’s still not perfect…and that’s just fine!
Theater Coach, Playwright, Vocalist, Educator