If there is one artist who has had a very successful and eventful year so far it’s Mary J. Blige. The “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” shut down the 2022 Super Bowl Half-time show along with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Eminem, she also performed at NBA All-Star weekend and now she is being honored as one of Time's most influential people of 2022.
Mary has been influential in Hip Hop and R&B for decades and has also empowered many women through her music and by sharing her life story.
She emerged on the scene in 1992 with her debut album What’s the 411? and had everyone looking for a “Real Love.” But during that time, the Bronx native was battling demons such as drug addiction and past abuse she faced. Her music reflected her pain as she often sang with so much conviction that you can hear and feel the heartache in her voice that many women can relate to.
At 51-years-old, it seems that the “Family Affair” singer is finally getting her flowers as the world is acknowledging what we’ve always known. Mary is the G.O.A.T. During her interview with Time, Mary reflected on her life before her prestigious career.
“I grew up in an environment where women did not feel good about themselves and then I learned on my own the hard way,” she said. “We lived in the projects. They put you in this experiment and they want you to survive. And I suffered a lot of damage from the hands of men and thank God I survived.”
She often struggled with self-esteem and talked about how it affected her. “You gotta care about yourself in order to take care of yourself and it’s hard for a lot of women like it was hard for me at one time because I didn’t love myself,” she explained. “I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t want anything for myself. I wanted to die.”
But when Mary found music, she was able to express herself and be a conduit for other women who experienced the same things she did. “I had nowhere to put it so I had to find a place to speak,” she said. “It was through the music where people said ‘wow, she’s suffering from the same insecurity or she’s suffering from the same abusive relationship or whatever she’s going through in her life, me too.’”
The Academy award-nominated actress reflected on her younger self and shared what she would have told her knowing what she knows now. “Thirteen-year-old Mary wouldn’t be able to hear this Mary. So I can’t tell her anything,” she said. “Just go through the process. It’s gonna be alright. I know it hurts but it’s gonna be alright and that’s what this Mary is telling her.”
Mary J. Blige | TIME100
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Featured image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for MRC