A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
Mary J. Blige does herself--and her girlfriends -- proud on this stunning CD. The dramatic beginning -- a moody synthesized instrumental leading into the artist's answering machine greeting--might be over the top, as are the rapped accolades by P. Diddy and Jay-Z. But once Mary herself enters the scene, the production and arrangements are interesting, tasteful, and beautifully executed. Especially notable on LOVE & LIFE is the texture of the background vocals, and the way they complement and enhance Blige's well-delivered leads.
Is it any good?
The songs are interesting throughout the CD, though occasionally cringe-worthy. The socially conscious "Finally Made It (Interlude)" delivers a strong "If I could do it, so can you" message. Then "Ooh!" follows, with "I do what you want if you don't hurt me--I'll cook and clean, I'll make you happy." We could all live without more of this particular message in music. But overall, Mary J. Blige covers a range of emotions about life, love, pride, and prejudice with style and beauty -- and with great backup vocals to match.