Mary J. Blige is back--& right on schedule--with My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1), the sequel to her 1994 album My Life that seems to fit right in more with her recent work.
1. "Intro": I'm not sure if this conversation with Diddy about including him in this album is a joke... because he is featured on one (albeit underrated) bonus track & that's it.
2. "Feel Inside" (ft. Nas): This song is just alright. Parts of it are in the part of her range that just isn't the best. Plus, Nicki > Nas. 3.5/5
3. "Midnight Drive" (ft. Brook Lynn): Mary's rap alter-ego helps really kick off the album with this smooth track. 4.5/5
4. "Next Level" (ft. Busta Rhymes): This is one of my favorites. It goes hard & Busta was an excellent choice. 5/5
5. "Ain't Nobody": She sounds good on this Darkchild-produced Chaka Khan cover, but unfortunately, it feels like they weren't able to modernize the song. 4/5
6. "25/8": I love the production on this song, but again, it's in that part of her range where her tone is just... 4/5
7. "Don't Mind": These next few tracks are my favorite part of the album. It's Mary doing Mary, not trying too hard, just chill music. Jerry Wonder is the man for this one! 5/5
8. "No Condition": With her signature structure & a key in her vocal sweet spot, this track has all the elements I need in an MJB song. 5/5
9. "Mr. Wrong" (ft. Drake): Drake aside, this Rico Love composition is, again, right where MJB should be. 5/5
10. "Why" (ft. Rick Ross): Between Rick Ross' multiple verses & the R&B-by-numbers chorus, this isn't one of the album's best offerings. 3.5/5
11. "Love A Woman" (ft. Beyonce): This was a great idea on paper. While I do enjoy them trading verses, the nothing-special voice that the two of them singing in unison on the chorus creates takes away from the power of the song... which isn't the strongest to begin with. 4/5
12. "Empty Prayers": Here is a powerful song for you, my favorite on the album actually. 5/5
13. "Need Someone": Another beautiful ballad. Good stuff. 5/5
14. "The Living Proof": Of course, the Underdogs-produced theme from "The Help" makes for a great closer. 5/5
My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1) has some great midtempos and ballads with a few hiccups in between. I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite albums from MJB, but it has some really great songs on it.
Rating: 4/5 Stars