On November 29, 1994, Mary J. Blige released My Life, her second album, which would later become known as her breakthrough. It would also go on to be the subject of the Amazon Prime original documentary, Mary J. Blige’s My Life. Directed by Vanessa Roth, this 82-minute-long feature documents the life and legacy of Mary J. Blige, including her harsh upbringing in New York City and her rise to stardom as one of the most influential voices in music.
The story starts in the middle with a look at Blige’s many accolades. From her Lifetime Achievement Award to multiple Grammys, Oscar nominations, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. All of them crowning achievements that the ceiling-shattering artist truly deserves.
Mary J. Blige has been on the scene since 1991, when she signed on to Uptown Records under Andre Harrell. Her 1992 debut album, What’s the 411?, became an instant hit. The re-release a year later, What’s the 411? Remix, solidified her position as the Queen of Hip Hop.
But it wasn’t until the release of My Life that Mary J. Blige became the superstar she’s widely known as today. Unlike her first album, Blige contributed the majority of the lyrics, resulting in a deeper, more personal look into the artist’s life and her arduous climb to the top.
“My Life takes viewers on a journey through Blige’s mind before, during, and after the creation of her standout record.“
Similarly, Mary J. Blige’s My Life takes viewers on a journey through Blige’s mind before, during, and after the creation of her standout record. We’re given a glimpse into her childhood, when she grew up in the Bronx and Yonkers with her parents and siblings. The trauma she faced at a young age, and being witness to the pain her mother had to endure. That same pain would become a hereditary chain as Blige faced struggles similar to what she witnessed in her youth.
A dive into the lyrics throughout the album open a personal conversation between Blige and her fans about the obstacles she faced. Struggles that stuck with her even as she reached for the stars. As she flew from city to city, Blige battled drug addiction, depression, and self doubt. This should come as no surprise to fans of her music, as Blige has always kept her lyricism both inviting and honest.
The openness of Blige’s music describes the crux of both the album and the documentary commemorating it, as that connection between herself and her fans is what’s made her career so enduring. Mary J. Blige’s My Life is a stunningly personal look at the artist’s career, and though existing fans may not find a lot of new information, it’s still a wonderful look into her humanity that anyone can certainly enjoy. And if you don’t know much about Blige’s career or life going in, this documentary will leave you a little more in tune with what the artist has to offer.
Mary J. Blige’s My Life is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. You can watch the official trailer for the film here.