Mary J. Blige is one of the most important and influential singers of all-time. Her first two albums from the early 1990s redefined R&B and practically created the subgenre of neosoul. She is widely credited for combining hip hop with R&B—feminine vocals on top of masculine beats and rhythms.
Blige is also known for her successful collaborations with rappers (especially her work with Method Man and Ghostface Killah). These collaborations paved the way for other divas, like Mariah Carey, to score hits with prominent hip hop artists. In her own right, Blige has made over 150 guest appearances in other artists’ songs.
It’s no wonder that Blige is called “Queen of Hip-hop Soul.” Had her early producer had his way, she would have been called “Queen of Ghetto Love.” That producer was Sean Combs. At the time, he was an executive with Blige’s record company and tasked with being her producer. Combs dubbed her “Queen of Ghetto Love” but his boss squashed that name in favor of “Queen of Hip-hop Soul.”
Blige and Combs collaborated on her first two albums, What’s the 411 (1992) and My Life (1994). While neither album reached number one on the Billboard 200 both have been certified 3x platinum. My Life is considered a classic and landmark in the history of R&B. It’s #279 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Since her first album in 1992, Blige has sold more than 65 million LPs and singles. Billboard ranks her as the most successful female R&B singer of the past quarter century. The New York-born songbird has toured numerous times throughout her career and has sold Mary J. Blige tickets all over the world.
As of 2014, she’s been nominated for 30 Grammy awards—she won nine of them. Her amazing career has been honored at the World Music Awards and by ASCAP. In 2010, Blige found herself ranked at number nine on VH-1’s “The 100 Greatest Women In Music.”