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Watch Mary J. Blige Perform Swaggering ‘Love Yourself’ With the Roots

Queen of Hip-Hop Soul brought potent ‘Strength of a Woman’ cut to ‘Fallon’

Mary J. Blige performed “Love Yourself” on The Tonight Show on Monday, enlisting the Roots to recreate the song’s rugged hip-hop soul backdrop. 

“Love Yourself” is a drama-filled paean to persistence and the rejuvenating effects of love. “Thought they’d put my life on hold, but I knew somethin’ they didn’t know,” Blige sings. “I know myself too much to ever fold/ Dark clouds, I’m movin’ past you.”

She began the performance in shadow, singing with only piano accompaniment. The lights kicked in before the first chorus, revealing the Roots and a beefed-up horn section that included two saxophones, two trumpets and a trombone. The brass was necessary to recreate the blaring sample – taken from the SCLC Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir’s “Nobody Knows” – that makes up the core of the “Love Yourself” beat.

The recording of “Love Yourself,” which also features Kanye West, appeared on Blige’s recently released Strength of a Woman album. The lead single from the LP, “Thick of It,” made the fastest climb to Number One on the Adult R&B Songs chart in over two decades, according to Billboard. Blige’s formidable follow-up, “U + Me ( Love Lesson),” jumped to Number One on the same chart last week.


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