Mary J. Blige – Good Morning Gorgeous (2022)
Mary J. Blige – Good Morning Gorgeous
According to an idiom popularized by rapper and ‘business, man’ Jay-Z, “Men lie and women lie, but numbers don’t.” So even by this simple metric, Mary J Blige has “the numbers” that count: over 70 million in album sales, fifteen albums, nine Grammy Awards, a pair of Academy Award nominations and….oh yes, that single crown anointing her “The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.” For decades, Mary’s music has combined the bravado of hip-hop and the authenticity of R&B, held together by the connective tissue of her own personal struggles, ones so transparent and raw that every listener could relate to them. If her 2017 release, Strength of a Woman, was about righteous indignation and purging a toxic marriage, then consider her brand new set, Good Morning Gorgeous, as a reflective journal of the experience, one offering glimpses into her journey, her musings and of course, the status quo.
Since her debut in 1991, Mary’s always invited us to ‘look into my life,’ and of course, GMG is no exception. The inspiration behind the title/mission statement is lain bare in an interlude, revealing that “When I was going through all this bad [expletive] in my life, I started waking up and saying, ‘good morning Gorgeous.’ No matter what I was doing or going through, hung over or not hung over, mad or not mad…the way that one person (*cough cough* Kendu Issacs?) was chipping at me and tearing me down and making me look at myself like I wasn’t nothing, I just get up now and say it.” The mantra is one that everyone of us can incorporate, along with the “hunty yaaassss” party anthem, “Amazing” (featuring DJ Kaled): “My crib is so big I tell the guests to use a map, he wanna play house I ask him, ‘where’s the fun in that?’” “On Top,” with Fivio Foreign, is another flex, and the nimble, yet forceful “Rent Money” finds Mary retreating from a less-than-reciprocal union and picking up the broken pieces: “I knew the risk, soon as we kissed, there wasn’t no even exchange/You treat everyone like they’re famous, every girl like she’s the main chick, amazing.”
Not that Ms. Blige is done lashing out or licking wounds: her heart is lain bare and exposed on “Enough” and “Here With Me,” with Anderson.Paak, and moments like “Love Without the Heartbreak” has her yearning for the peaks minus the valleys, thank you very much:“If I could take the best of love I could do without this/I would take out all the [expletive] and the part about your ex [expletive].” All the money, glam teams and stature can’t save us from blighted potential (“Falling In Love”) or loneliness (“Need Love”), and that’s what keeps the fans loyal to their Queen. It’s precisely why Mary J. Blige is part of the star-studded Superbowl halftime performance within hours of GMG’s release: her ability to, and insistence upon, leaving it all on wax (figuratively speaking)…and the stage.
Let’s face it: there is little that Mary hasn’t accomplished since her 1991 debut, What’s The 411, and consequently, there’s little left for Her Highness to prove. But that doesn’t mean that Good Morning Gorgeous isn’t a worthy set, or that Ms. Blige has stopped being a complex and compelling artist. So pour a glass, cop it, get and immerse yourself in the tracks that speak to you the most. Isn’t that what you deserve……Gorgeous? Highly Recommended.
By Melody Charles