Mary J. Blige has been enjoying a victory lap in her career this year, as the R&B legend’s profile is as high as it’s ever been. She’s seen success with her new album, Good Morning Gorgeous, played Monet Tejada in Power Book II: Ghost, and performed during football’s biggest night. Blige, who was named one of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People in the World, appears to be bouncing back into rare form after enduring and finalizing her split from ex-husband Kendu Isaacs.
During an appearance on Angie Martinez’s IRL podcast and video series, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul spoke about her desire to find love in her life once again. But now, she prioritizes love of self above romance and is willing to defend it at all cost.
“Now I want love, but love for me first,” she said candidly. “The love for Mary, I found it. And I’ll f**k anybody up that tries to take it away from me. Because it’s so real and so good, and I worked for it, and I earned it. And I keep having to work on it every single day — and it’s a job, it’s a real job.”
Blige also touched on how she’s grown to appreciate certain parts of herself that she previously had disdain for during her younger years, including the voice that’s made her one of the most successful and beloved singers of her time. “I hated the sound of my voice,” Blige said of her world-renowned, buttery alto. “And I’d be like, ‘Ugh, that’s me?’ Now, it’s like, ‘I need to hear that again.’ It’s a miracle.”
Watch Mary J. Blige’s IRL podcast interview with Angie Martinez below.