Mary J. Blige on the Cultural Impact of Hip-Hop Soul: ‘We Give People a Way to Speak’

by Yah Yah
Big Stock Photo: LOS ANGELES - FEB 12: Mary J Blige at the "The Umbrella Academy"

Since bursting onto the mainstream in the 90s, Mary J. Blige has maintained her “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” crown.

In a recent interview with ELLE, the singer and award-winning actress opened up about the subgenre’s overall influence on the culture.

“Hip-hop is East Coast. Hip-hop is West Coast,” Blige told the publication. “Hip-hop is Europe—this is why it’s going to be so major, because this is what the Super Bowl is showing to people: It’s not just one thing. [Hip-hop] is everywhere.”

Blige adds, “We are the culture; [hip-hop artists] give people a way to speak. We give people a way to walk. We give people a way to talk. We give people a way to think. That’s what hip-hop and hip-hop soul have done for our culture since [the beginning].”

Last year, Blige released her single, “Good Morning Gorgeous,” the titular cut from her upcoming album.

Many of us suffer from time to time with low self-confidence and self-doubt. To her fans, Blige is bold, assertive and unapologetically herself. Speaking to ELLE, she admits that she didn’t always possess such a high level of confidence.

“If you’ve been beat down mentally by someone, you’re never pretty enough,” she said, referring to her divorce from former manager Isaacs. “You’re never smart enough. Nothing’s ever good enough.”

“I had to pay myself the highest compliments, even if I didn’t believe it, just so I could build myself up,” Blige added. “I would do it in the morning, because that’s the time when your hair is not done and you don’t have on makeup. You’re just kind of dealing with yourself for real.”

Blige says that during her morning affirmations, she tells herself, “Good morning, Gorgeous. I love you. I got you. I need you.”

You can read ELLE’s full interview with Mary J. Blige here.

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