Mary J. Blige is one of the most successful Hip-Hop and R&B artists of all time. Her impact on the music industry is unmistakable, with a career spanning multiple decades and 14 studio albums. But music isn’t her only talent; she is one of only a few musicians who have successfully transitioned to acting.
For Mary J. Blige, her rise to the top began in the 90s with a total of 4 studio albums coming out throughout the decade. In this list, we check out some of the most popular tracks from the start of her career.
As part of her third studio album, Share My World, Mary J. Blige released this fantastic song as the third single from the album. This track also utilized a series of samples, including You Are Everything, The Payback, and Sukiyaki, all from the 60s and 70s, showcasing the creative talent of producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
The song experienced moderate success reaching #24 on the Billboard charts but was a bigger hit in the UK, reaching #6. A powerful and soulful highlight of her third album and a fantastic showcase of her vocal range.
All I Need
Mary J. Blige is best known for her own productions and fantastic voice. But one of her most significant contributions to the music scene of the 90s was legitimizing the crossover potential of Hip-Hop and Rap with R&B.
This incredible duet with the Method Man perfectly exemplifies this hybrid between genres. While there are several remixes, including one from Puff Daddy, the Razor Sharp Remix is arguably the best.
Not Gon’ Cry
Recorded in 1995 and released in early 1996, this emotionally charged ballad was part of the movie Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. And Mary J. Bligh was in good company on the soundtrack with other superstars like Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, and Brandy.
The movie and soundtrack enjoyed success, with this single reaching #2 on the Billboard charts. And with a million copies sold, it was one of many Platinum hits for Mary J. Blige.
I Can Love You
Further cementing her position as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige teamed up with Lil Kim to deliver a powerful vocal performance and slick rap segment. The track was a moderate success reaching #28 on the charts in the USA. It also made it to our 90s hip hop songs playlist.
A great showcase of all the talent that Mary J. Blige was surrounding herself with at the time of her third album Share My World, including Rodney Jerkins, who produced this track and several other #1 hits of the 90s.
I’m Goin’ Down
As part of her second album, Mary J. Blige released the cover to I’m Going Down from Rose Royce. This soulful track was produced by Sean “Puffy” Combs and Chucky Thompson and was an ideal showcase for Mary J. Blige’s vocal talents.
It peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, not the most successful release for Mary J. Blige but an undeniably smooth and soulful track that deserves your attention.
You Remind Me
Mary J. Blige started her music career as a backup singer. But that was all set to change when she was signed to Uptown. Under the guidance of producer Puff Daddy, the seeds were sown for her debut album, What’s the 411?
Her debut single from her first album was You Remind Me and was featured as part of the Strictly Business movie soundtrack. Peaking at #29 in the charts, it was an initial glimpse into what would end up being a fantastic career. With it’s groovy vibe, this song also made it to our 90s party music list.
Share My World
Towards the backend of the 90s, Mary J. Blige released her third studio album, Share My World, in 1997. This album showcased the maturing of her career and saw her expand her influence as a producer.
The namesake track from the album features a more upbeat mood compared to some of her earlier releases. It’s a sophisticated production oozing with soul, grooviness, and Mary J. Blige’s fantastic vocal talents.
Mary J. Blige’s second album, My Life, featured several great songs. But it is not hard to see why Be Happy was selected as the lead single from the album. The underlying infectious groove sticks with you and continues to grow on you the more you listen to it.
It reached #29 on the charts in the USA and was praised by critics for its catchy melody and sultry vocals with a distinctly more R&B flavor than her other releases.
All That I Can Say
As the 90s wrapped up, Mary J. Blige released her fourth studio album, Mary, in 1999. It once again showed her maturing further as an artist and finding new ways to push modern soul music in new directions.
This funky and jazzy release was composed by Lauryn Hill, and her undeniable style is embedded all over this song. And when teamed up with Mary J. Blige’s sensual voice, you have a slick and soulful jam that deserves to be added to your playlist.
Another highlight of Mary J. Blige’s fourth album is this groovy release that features a piano sample from Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets. This again highlights the intelligent and creative blending of genres and samples that defined her career.
It wasn’t a huge commercial success peaking at #51 on the Billboard charts. But as time passes, it holds up as one of the best Mary J. Blige songs of the 90s.
All Hail The Queen
Mary J. Blige has earned her title as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. A multi-decade career that includes a staggering amount of awesome music and multiple awards. Across 14 albums, she has cemented her position, with each album reaching the top ten in the Billboard Album charts.
The 90s were just the beginning for Mary J. Blige but looking back on these early years; it was already so evident that she would be a force to be reckoned with. Especially when looking at her deeply personal My Life Album. A Queen through and through.
Watch The Full Playlist
The full playlist with every song in this post can be watched via the video below or directly on our YouTube channel.