Today marks the 31st anniversary of Mary J. Blige’s debut album, What’s The 411?. This was her introduction to the world and Puff Daddy before he called himself Diddy and proclaimed Mary as the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul”. This was one album that totally dominated not only the 90’s but also r&b music. During that time, she wasn’t your average r&b singer as she talked about love, lost, and heartbreak and she dressed in hip hop clothes instead of your typical gowns & dresses.
She released her first single, “Real Love”, which sampled rap duo Audio Two”s hit single, “Top Billin”. The album featured collaborations from rapper Grand Puba from Brand Nubian and then labelmate/boyfriend K-CI Hailey from Jodeci. She even put a spin on Chaka Khan’s single, “Sweet Thing”. Despite not being the number one in the country at the time, the album still remains a favorite among today’s singers. Some of the singles off the album still being sampled in today’s music.
Since the release of the album, Blige went on to become one of the biggest r&b singers in the world and even performed for President Obama when he was sworn into office for the first time and still continue to influence today’s singers.