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Mary J. Blige Reminisces Over ‘What’s the 411?’ Album for 20th Anniversary

CHERYL GERBER/INVISION/AP

Mary J. Blige‘s personal tribulations and passionate vocals on her debut album, What’s the 411?, became the soundtrack for listeners eager to hear music with substance when the effort released on July 28, 1992. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul will celebrate a major milestone in her career come Saturday (July 28), as the date marks the 20th year the 12-track opus has been in rotation.

From “You Remind Me” to “Real Love,” Mary sang of the ills and thrills of romance. She touched on the melancholy and the sweet, her powerful lyrics resonating with fans young and old. Earning a No. 1 position on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart in 1992, and scoring album sales of more than three times platinum since then attests to that. Now, the New York native reflects on the memories of her influential album, a project that changed the sound of R&B.

“Wow, I mean to celebrate that accomplishment of the 20th anniversary of What’s the 411?… it means everything because it was the beginning of everything that I do,” Mary tells The BoomBox. “It was the beginning of the 20-year career span that I have. Just the longevity and the fanbase and the building of that.”

The 41-year-old Grammy Award-winning songstress also details some of the memories she has surrounding the debut of What’s the 411?, a record that featured Diddy as executive producer and a person responsible for manning the selection of beats used.

“The first shows, being nervous, the Howard University performance Puffy booked for us, just having Biggie and everybody around that was around at that time,” she shares. “Just hearing your record on the radio for the first time from that album.”

Once the masses bought the LP and were finally given the opportunity to hear her material, Mary celebrated one special way: by splurging on a gift for herself. “I bought a car,” she says. “A green Cherokee.”

Fans will witness the singer perform songs off What’s the 411? during her Liberation tour alongside D’Angelo next month. The shows will commence Aug. 18 at Farm Bureau Live in Virginia Beach, Va., and close Sept. 14 at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Mich.

Watch Mary J. Blige’s “You Remind Me” Video


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