100 Best Albums of the Nineties

From Moby to Nirvana, the records that defined a decade

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Mary J. Blige, 'My Life'

63. Mary J. Blige, 'My Life'

She's just above average in technical singing ability, but this girl from the projects of Yonkers, New York, became a cultural necessity because she had Everywoman crosses to bear and a superhuman ability to make you feel her. On her second album, My Life, Mary J. Blige shows a rare gift for pouring her heart into a recording, to make her soul come through the speakers. Collaborating with Sean "Puffy" Combs on original songs and interpolations of tracks by Barry White, Curtis Mayfield and Roy Ayers ("My Life"), Blige displays her ongoing struggle to love herself, and, as she says on the marquee single, to just be happy. The subtly autobiographical album ended up making her a megastar and crystallized the burgeoning hip-hop-soul movement.

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