Mary J Blige
The ruling Queen of Hiphop Soul is also an actress, active social benefactor and inspiration for younger singers, like Alicia Keys and Keyshia Cole.
In 1988 Mary J Blige recorded an impromptu version of Anita Baker’s Rapture in a recording booth in a NY mall, though her rougher singing style inclined more towards Aretha Franklin or Chaka Khan. Her mother’s boyfriend played it to an Uptown Records employee and the company signed her. For years she only got to sing background for other artists, but when her debut album What’s The 411?, utilizing several R&B producers and guided by Puff Daddy, finally hit the stores in 1992, it sold well, much helped by the chart-topping singles You Remind Me and Real Love. It earned her the title “Queen of Hiphop Soul”. Since then Mary, whose straight-forward lyrics are exceptionally autobiographic, has released seven more very successful albums, the latest being 2007’s Growing Pains.