Mary J. Blige is known as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul for reason. Yes, she gives you classic and modern hip-hop beats set to R&B lyrics and grooves, but at the heart of what makes her a legend is the soul she provides in each and every word she sings. From the very beginning of her career, Mary has never been afraid to put all of her heart, vulnerability and soul on a track…and that’s exactly why we love her.
One of the things that few sing about better than MJB is a broken heart, how to deal with it, how to move on from it and what to do when you’re right in the “thick of it.” If you’ve ever had any relationship drama there is probably a Mary J. Blige song out there to help you cope. Check out HB’s list of the best songs from Mary to forget your ex and look forward to your next!
- Not Gon’ Cry – When Waiting to Exhale was released in theaters in 1995 Black women everywhere were lining up to see how author Terry McMillan’s best-selling novel would unfold onscreen. However, the film’s stellar soundtrack was just as successful, thanks in large part to Mary J. Blige’s gut-wrenching break-up anthem “Not Gon’ Cry.” Sung from the perspective of Angela Bassett’s character Bernadine in the film, the Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling song easily serves as fuel for anyone who is dealing with a nasty break-up and wanting to let the person know just how bad they messed up. If there is one song that sums up MJB’s excellence at singing about heartbreak…this is it.
- Your Child – If you have ever found yourself in the terrible situation of having to face the fact that your man has fathered a child outside your relationship, then this underrated Mary classic was written just for you. From her 1999 album Mary, “Your Child” is about a woman who not only finds out that her man is cheating on her, but that he has a baby with the woman as well. In the song, Mary doesn’t blame the other woman for her messy relationship, instead she accepts the reality of the new baby and that she has to end her relationship once and for all, singing “there could never be anymore us,” spoken like a woman who’s truly fed up.
- No Happy Holidays – Also from her fourth studio album Mary comes another classic Mary J. Blige heartbreak anthem. This time it’s all about what you do when you realize that your man is never around during the holidays. No, not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, but all the major ones. Singing about the perils of being a side chick before the current mainstream fascination, Mary doesn’t hold anything back while singing from her soul, while acknowledging her part in this messy relationship and knowing that it’s finally over. With lyrics like “Being with you deprives me of true love, true love. I can’t fathom living this life without being number one. This is finally goodbye, I pray to God you live a happy life. Cause loving you just ain’t right, make her your wife,” Mary combines self-reflection, heartache and self-worth like the pro she is.
- No More Drama – The great thing about “No More Drama” (from Mary’s hugely successful 2001 album of the same name) is that it can apply to any situation or relationship that is simply too much for you to handle, which is why it’s a fitting soundtrack to mark the end a drama-filled romantic relationship as well. Giving one of her best vocal performances on the emotional track, “No More Drama” is simply saying enough is enough…and if you’ve ever been in a relationship where there was never any peace, you know exactly what she’s talking about.
- Take Me As I Am – On her 2005 chart-topping, multi-platinum and award-winning album The Breakthrough, the smash single “Be Without You” was the runaway hit about true love, but it was the album’s fourth single “Take Me As I Am,” that best describes finding yourself and letting a toxic relationship go in the process. The concept and lyrics are simple to understand, “so take me as I am or have nothing at all,” that’s it. Whether you’re expressing this sentiment in your current relationship as you find your way out the door or saying it to a new love as things begin, Mary tells you to love yourself first no matter what.
- Be Happy – Sometimes you don’t need a sad break-up song to get you through the tough times, you need the exact opposite in the form of a mid-tempo groove to get you dancing. From what is arguably considered her best album, Mary J. Blige’s 1994 sophomore offering My Life featured the smooth groove and classic positive anthem “Be Happy.” That’s all Mary was asking for and it’s all any of us can hope to achieve. This track still jams today because not only does it still sound amazing, but the message will always resonate. Relationships and heartbreaks are part of life, but take it from Mary who soulfully sings “All I really want is to be happy. And to find a love that’s mine, it would be so sweet,” your happiness should come before any attempt at a relationship.
- Just Fine – Dealing with a broken heart is rough, but you can only mope around for so long before you have to get out, put your best outfit on and hit the dance floor. Mary J. Blige’s 2007 hit “Just Fine” from her album Growing Pains is the soundtrack to positivity. It makes you feel good, appreciate yourself and ready to embrace what lies ahead. Reminiscent of a retro Michael Jackson song, “Just Fine” couples it’s upbeat sound with inspiring lyrics like “No time for moping around, are you kidding. And no time for negative vibes, cause I’m winning. It’s been a long week, I put in my hardest. Gonna live my life, feels so good to get it right.” MJB telling us everything is gonna be fine while singing over a hot track? We’ll take it!
- Whole Damn Year – There is no time limit for getting over the end of a relationship, as Mary lets us know in her haunting 2014 single “Whole Damn Year,” which is the amount of time she says it took for her to get over the heartbreak. The track’s production is minimal, letting Mary’s voice be the dominant presence as she sings from her gut about just how hard it’s been to get over a lost love. Singing “See winter took most of my heart. And Spring punched right in the stomach. Summer came looking for blood. And by autumn, I was left with nothing,” she takes you through 365 days of what’s it’s been like since her love ended…and if it takes you that long or less, it’s okay.
- Thick Of It – If you’ve been keeping up, Mary J. Blige is currently going through one of the messiest divorces the celebrity world has ever seen and she hasn’t been shy to talk about it or put the situation at the forefront of her music. Released as the lead single from her current album Strength of a Woman, “Thick Of It” is classic Mary at her best. As she sings about her ex-husband and all the ways he did her dirty during and after their marriage, she also does it with the signature swag and sass that only she can bring. Proving that while you may be in the “thick of it” right now with your relationship…you never let ‘em see you sweat.
What’s your favorite MJB song? Tell us in the comments.