Track Review: Mary J. Blige ft. Kanye West, ‘Love Yourself’
Hip-Hop Soul Queen Mary J. Blige returns with “Love Yourself,” the third single from her 12th studio album, ‘Strength of a Woman.’ Kanye West guests.
After more than two years, 46-year old R&B vet Mary J. Blige is returning with her 12th proper studio album, Strength of a Woman. Ahead of Strength, Blige released three singles: “Thick of It,” “U + Me (Love Lesson),” and most recently, “Love Yourself,” featuring Kanye West.
“Love Yourself” opens similarly to some of MJB’s past records. There’s heavy, low register piano as well coupled with harp. There’s a sense of drama and heartfelt emotion from the start. Blige sets up the record, talking about L-O-V-E:
“It’s been a long way, but I made it here with love…/ Said I’ve been up and down and I’ve been through it all / Took a while to know my heart / Oh, yes it did, yeah / Before love like this, you go / Through the fire and valley lows…”
After a slow, mysterious intro, the hip-hop soul element kicks in. There are hard, anchoring drums, a brilliant, looped trumpet sample, and Mary J. Blige blessing us with strong, emotional vocals. She sings, rhythmically, on her first official verse:
“Truth can be the sweetest pain / It can mess up everything / it’s the only way you know / I’m payin’ for it, I’m changin’ for it…”
The most memorable moment of the entire song lies in the chorus section which follows:
“Oh, you gotta love yourself / If you really wanna be with someone else / You gotta feed yourself / Before you feed somebody else.”
Kanye West handles the second verse, rapping about his come-up. Naturally, given West’s love for himself, he’s a perfect fit, rapping with incredible moxie.
“Came from the Chi and wow, look what the f*ck they found / A young legend, comin’ to shut the summer down / You need to talk to me like you don’t when your mother ‘round.”
Blige offers one more verse, encouraging herself and other women who have experienced similar things. This is Mary J. Blige at her best, something that should make Strength of a Woman one of her best albums in years. She’s off to a good start with third single, “Love Yourself.”
Mary J. Blige • Strength of a Woman • Capitol • Release: 4.28.17
Photo Credit: Capitol