Why Does Mary J. Blige Sound Different? (Pg. 2)

This record is extremely important to me right now because it’s something that I needed to do. As an artist I needed to take that leap of faith in my artistry. [I wasn’t going to] physically die; I would die spiritually in my art. It’s a pivotal point in my life because it’s the evolution of Mary J. Blige. It’s me showing the world that I’m more than just a hip-hop and R&B artist.

That was a genre of music and a time in my life and it’s a book that will never close because my fans love that. But my fans and I [have] also experienced me doing songs with Bono, Elton [John] and Sting. This is my breakout moment where I show people that I’m more than just an artist that they put into this little R&B box. I am universal, I am broad, I am so many things that people never gave me a chance to show. That’s why this album is so important because it’s me liberating myself and doing what I love as an artist completely.

London is making some of the most amazing soul music right now. So many [acts] are coming from over there and becoming huge artists and soul singers i.e. Sam Smith, Amy Winehouse, Adele. I am soul. I’ve been rooted and grounded in soul ever since I was 4 years old. And London has always had amazing soul music, Elton John being on of the first Brits on Soul Train in the 70s. Then Soul II Soul came over and took over everything [in the late 80s]. So it was a pleasure and an honor to go over there and free myself from the pigeonhole that was over here. Everyone wants you to stay in one genre [in America]. When over there I could just be myself because, as far as the radio is concerned, there are so many different things going on. It’s not just one thing, like oh you’re an urban artist, oh you’re a pop artist. They have variety and the type of music and energy and expression that I wanted to be part of.

It’s politics and powers that be [over here]. Over there, and I’m not saying that I know, but I think that the powers that be, the bosses allow artists to do what they love in their heart. To let Ed Sheeran be a rapper almost if he felt like doing it. Allow Sam to be free to sound like the Sam Cooke’s of our time. To sound like the Otis Redding’s that sounds like the soul of Aretha Franklin. To let Amy do Amy. So that was liberating to me. It’s prison when you can’t be yourself as an artist. It really just holds you back and makes you ask yourself ‘well what am I doing this for?’ I got into this to express myself to my fans, to my people so that they can have an avenue or a way of therapy and the only way to become that for people is to be who you are and not be afraid. That’s the beautiful thing about London right now. People are not afraid to be who they are, and that’s where I’m at right now.

I’ve always been Mary. I’ve been tested and tried, you know. Try this, try that. And just like a human being I tried it and it didn’t work. The only thing that works for me is being Mary J. Blige. And that’s what you have with this album. Mary J. Blige. Although you have different music, different sounds, it's Mary to the core. It’s my DNA. It’s my joy, my pain. It’s my every single thing that you can think of."

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Bobby Shmurda Returns Home After Serving 6 Years In Prison

After serving 6 years, Bobby Shmurda is finally out. The rapper, born Ackquille Pollard, was granted a conditional release from the New York state prison, Clinton Correctional Facility, on Tuesday morning (Feb. 23) and will serve the remainder of his 7-year sentence on parole. According to reports, Shmurda “will be under community supervision in Kings County until he completes his sentence on February 23, 2026.”

In true celebrity fashion, Shmurda was brought home in a private jet this morning. Earlier this week, Migos' Quavo told Billboard that he would do the honor of picking him up upon Bobby's release. "I'm going to get my guy. I'm personally gonna go pick up Bobby Shmurda. I'm bout to go get him. I'm gonna let him show you how I'm gonna pick him up, yessir. It's gonna be big."

And that he did.

 

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In December 2014, Shmurda was arrested at New York City's Quad Studios and was charged with conspiracy to murder, criminal possession of a weapon, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and reckless endangerment follow a two-year probe by the New York Police Department. In 2016, the former Epic Records signee and his childhood friend Rowdy Rebel accepted a plea deal and were sentenced to 7 years in prison.

“They kind of did it dirty at the end of the day,” Bobby explained in a phone interview with VIBE back in 2016. “They had offered me five (years) but then they said if I take the seven, then I’ll be taking it so that they could give Rowdy seven because they were going to offer him 12. I didn’t want my bro to do 12 years because at the end of the day, we didn’t really do nothing, but they playing dirty. So I’m going to take one for the bro.”

Now that Bobby is out, he'll be spending time with family and friends and getting his head back into creating new music. Watch his FaceTime call with his mother, Leslie, down below.

Welcome back, Bobby.

Bobby Shmurda on facetime with his mom after being released from prison pic.twitter.com/YvdaBzo1Y4

— Bobby Shmurda Updates (@bodboybobby) February 23, 2021

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Fred The Godson attends the Rhymes Over Beats Hip Hop Launch at The Griffin on March 31, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Bronx Community Celebrate Fred The Godson's Street Naming On His Birthday

Today (Feb. 22), the great MC, Fred The Godson, was honored posthumously with a street naming by his Bronx community and hip-hop industry comrades. Among the dozens of those that showed love to the rapper that passed away in April 2020 due to COVID-19 were BX native Fat Joe and Harlem repper Jim Jones. The street's South Bronx location of Leggett avenue and Kelly street will now also be called Fredrick "Fred The Godson" Thomas Way.

While snow fell heavily, the crowd of supporters and the organizers stood strong and watched as the sign was unveiled to cheers of joy. The Fred The Godson Foundation worked hard to make this day happen on what would have been Fred's 36th birthday. "Shortly after Fred’s passing, the Fred The Godson Foundation was created to carry on his legacy for his children and family, and the commitment to his dreams for the Bronx," says the foundation's mission statement. "The mission is to inspire, empower and nourish individuals, children and families in underserved communities, starting with Fred’s birthplace. The foundation will foster community unity through the common pursuit of wellness, prosperity, and opportunity."

 

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Known for having one of the most celebrated flows that included a barrage of double entendres and metaphors that were rarely matched, Fred was a respected MC with enormous skills that were able to get him featured on the famed 2011 XXL 'Freshman' class magazine cover along with Meek Mill, Mac Miller (RIP) and Kendrick Lamar. Jim Jones had some heartfelt words for the one named 'Gordo' at the ceremony, "Fred inspired me to do this music, a lot all over again. There was a time I really didn't want to do no music...and Fred would say, 'Nah, you gotta get in that booth Capo.'"

 

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The Thomas family announced thank you's and love to Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. of District 17 in the South Bronx, Bronx Borough President Ruban Diaz, NYPD's 41st Precinct, and the Bronx community for helping make the Frederick “Fred the Godson” Thomas Way street co-naming possible.

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Much respect to the legacy of the husband and father, Fred The Godson.

 

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Jay-Z attends 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
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Jay-Z Sells Half Stake Of 'Ace Of Spades' To Moët Hennessy In New Partnership

Jay-Z's Armand de Brignac aka Ace of Spaces has sold 50% of its stake in an acquisition by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH). On Monday morning (Feb. 22), The two leading luxury spirits brands announced their new alliance which includes a global distribution agreement.

“I’m proud to welcome the Arnault family into ours through this partnership that began with Alexandre Arnault and continued with his father Bernard Arnault and Philippe Schaus, at my home in Los Angeles," said Carter in a press release. "It is a partnership that has felt familiar the entire time. We are confident that the sheer power of the Moët Hennessy global distribution framework, its unparalleled portfolio strength and its long-established track record of excellence in developing luxury brands will give Armand de Brignac the commercial power it needs to grow and flourish even further.”

Moët Hennessy's president and CEO, Philippe Schaus shared how his company has been a long-admirer of Armand de Brignac's success in the champagne and wine categories.

“Often referred to as 'Ace of Spades,' Armand de Brignac breaks barriers and reflects contemporary luxury, while preserving the traditions of the Champagne terroirs. Today, we are incredibly proud to be partnering with them and believe that the combination of our Champagne experience and international network coupled with Shawn 'JAY-Z' Carter’s vision, the strength of the Armand de Brignac brand and quality of its range of prestige cuvées will allow us to take the business to new heights across the world.”

Watch Jay-Z's sitdown interview with CNBC's Squawk Box (which aired shortly after the published announcement) where he talks about how the deal came to fruition and his growth since entering the wine and spirits space after boycotting the champagne line, Cristal back in 2006.

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