“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.