On this day in 1992, 25 years ago, the infamous Mary J. Blige released her first studio album titled, What’s the 411?, executive produced by P. Diddy. Since then, Mary has made a name for herself while becoming one of the most respected artists in the industry. To pay homage to such an icon, let’s take another look at the album that created the Mary J. Blige we all know and love today.
What’s the 411? spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It has also spawned two Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 1s including “You Remind Me” and “Real Love.” One year later, Mary J. Blige released a remix version to her debut album, titled What’s the 411? Remix, in which she took all of the album’s songs and added guest features and new producers. What’s the 411? Remix was another hit for the rising star as “I Don’t Want to Do Anything” and “My Love” both charted on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
This album was nothing but pure R&B content wise. An album about friendship, heartache, love, and confidence all thrown into one cohesive piece of work. The difference is that Mary J. Blige was able to fuse Hip-Hop beats with R&B melodies ultimately creating the contemporary R&B sound that we have now.
The album starts off with a string of voice messages left on Mary’s phone from her friends as they share their respect and love for her. The album then goes into the first actual track titled, “Reminisce.” Immediately, listeners are dragged in by her voice. The song takes on the role of foreshadowing the whole album as Mary thinks about past relationships, friendships, and growth.
Songs like “Real Love” were chart hitting records because they were so relatable during the time period and even nowadays when it seems that love is one of those things that can only be dreamed of and not attained.
“Real love. I’m searching for a real love/ Someone to make heart scream, real love”
As the album continues, listeners are introduced to the range of Mary’s voice. Her ability to sing in multiple ranges was shown on songs like “Love no Limit.” Starting out smooth, the song takes listeners through a series of note-ranging ad libs proving that no one can sing from the gut better than Mary.
Although Mary is known for her messages of self-respect, women empowerment, and her voice, this first album was all about a traumatic love and a woman finding herself.
The production by P.Diddy and the voice from Mary J. Blige helped to elevate her as an artist while creating a whole new sound making Mary a legend. What’s The 411? was a classic album during it’s time and still stands as one from the legend.