Mary J. Blige has built a career on channeling her inner demons to create some of contemporary soul's finest music, while amassing a huge fan base that sound tracks their own lives to "Be Without You" and "No More Drama." But, as she points out on "Hurt Again," from her eighth studio album, Growing Pains, she's been there, done that and no longer wants to wallow in her own self-pity. So what does this new Mary want, then? Energetic first single "Just Fine" testifies that she wants to stop moping around and celebrate her transformation from angry and insecure B-girl to confident grown woman. She's in love and dedicated to making it last. Old habits die hard, though, and not every Mary fan is on the happy train, so songs like "Roses" and "Work in Progress (Growing Pains)" acknowledge our Queen of Hip-Hop Soul's (or anyone else's) fight toward bliss is an ongoing struggle. Blige may be on a different journey now, but she's still taking listeners along for the ride.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.