Born Mary Jane Blige in the Bronx on January 11, 1971, today marks the 46th Birthday of none other than the Iconic "'Queen of Hip-Hop Soul', Mary J Blige.  Throughout the day today, you'll hear Mary's music as WBLK recognizes her Birthday.

Here's a video of Mary J. Speaking to Buffalo Men on Behalf of the Women in Buffalo:


Called the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", Blige is credited with influencing the musical marriage of hip hop and R&B.  Ethan Brown of The New Yorker says that albums "What's the 411?" and "My Life", in hindsight, invented "the sample-heavy sound that reinvigorated urban radio and became a blueprint for nineties hip-hop and R&B.".  Brown further concludes that Mary's "duets with the Wu-Tang Clan's Method Man and Ghostface Killah set the trend for collaborations between rappers and R&B songbirds like Mariah Carey.". Tom Horan of The Daily Telegraph comments that Blige, being a hugely influential figure in popular music, "invented what is now called R&B by successfully combining female vocals with muscular hip hop rhythm tracks. All over the world, that recipe dominates today's charts.". Called one of the "most explosive, coming-out displays of pure singing prowess" and "one of the most important albums of the nineties",  What's the 411? saw Blige pioneer "the movement that would later become neo soul, generating gripping songs that were also massive radio hits.".

African American scholars have noted the implications of Blige's presentation and representation of black womanhood and femininity in the typically male-dominated and centric sphere of hip hop. Blending the vocal techniques of rapping in hip hop with aspirational messages in R&B, Blige is credited to articulating black women's experiences in a "more factual and objective"  manner than typical stereotypes and tropes of black women in the media. Using her personal experiences and struggles with her family as source material for her songs, Blige refutes notions of black female hypersexuality by "imploring women to love and empower themselves through both autonomy and intimacy."[ This desire for love does more than connect to her audience members. With particular attention on her single "Real Love," critics note how the song is "a performative text, declaratively demand[ing] recognition of Blige's full humanity and, more broadly, that of hip-hop-generation women."

Blige has received notable awards and achievements. In 2010, she was ranked 80th on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artist of All Time.  Blige was listed as one of the 50 most influential R&B singers by Essence.  Rolling Stonemagazine ranked My Life at number 279 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album was also included on Time's list of the 100 Greatest albums of All Time.  Alternately called the "Queen of R&B" for her success in the realm of R&B, Blige has amassed ten number one albums on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart .  Blige is also the only artist to have won Grammys in the R&B, hip hop, pop, and gospel fields.

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