The Breakthrough (Deluxe)

Mary J. Blige

The Breakthrough (Deluxe)

By the time Mary J. Blige released 2005's The Breakthrough, she had already cemented herself as an undeniable legend—the reigning queen of hip-hop soul for over a decade. She began her career working closely with Diddy, who executive-produced her first two albums, and the pair reunited for 2003's Love & Life. When that album was unable to reconjure the magic of old, The Breakthrough found the singer collaborating with a who's who of producers: Raphael Saadiq, 9th Wonder, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and will.i.am, among a slew of others. The result was a triumphant collection of songs that subtly ushered Blige into a decidedly more adult era of her R&B powers. Songs like "Enough Cryin" (produced by Rodney Jerkins and Sean Garrett), "Take Me As I Am," and the smash single "Be Without You" (courtesy of Bryan-Michael Cox) harkened to the wounded balladeering of old with a new grown-and-sexy bent. Netting seven Grammy nominations, the album remains one of her most celebrated.

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