Mary J. Blige Shines on ‘Think Like A Man Too’


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Review – Think Like A Man Too

Cutting to the chase, there’s one reason why the Think Like A Man Too soundtrack is buzz worthy aside from the film itself – Mary J. Blige handles performance duties across all 14 tracks. In other words, rather than being a compilation like many soundtracks tend to be, Think Like A Man Too is more like a new Mary J. Blige album. All said and done, Think Like A Man Too proves to be a solid addition to MJB’s rich discography.

With nothing bad gracing Think Like a Man Too, there are some highlights. “Vegas Nights,featuring The-Dream is among the highlights, possessing a cool, 80s throwback vibe about it. Besides the production and sound, the chorus stands out, thanks to the references to many of MJB’s soulful influences – a list including Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, and Roberta Flack among others.

“See That Boy Again” takes the prize as the album’s crowning achievement, composed and featuring Pharrell Williams. “See That Boy Again” follows a string of successful Pharrell produced songs infused with soul, including Aloe Blacc’s “Love Is the Answer” and his own “Gust Of Wind,a top-notch selection from G I R L. One reason for the success of this particular track is Mary J. Blige seems to incorporate incredible emotion and vocal grit into her performance. ‘Course, Williams is no slouch himself.

“Wonderful,which samples “Pust It Along” (A Tribe Called Quest), keeps the momentum going strong. Lushly produced, with a relaxed, funky mid-tempo groove, Blige continues to flex over old school sensible joints. Later on the Jazmin Sullivan co-write “I Want You,Blige continues to show the power of her voice. “I Want You” runs long, surpassing the six-minute mark, but that doesn’t detract from the quality of the song.

Other songs shine brightly as well, if a shade less than the aforementioned. Blige covers Shalamar capably on opening joint “A Night To Remember.” Additionally, she rocks out atop Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and The-Dream’s groovy, soulful backdrop on “A Moment of Love” which is highlighted by the horns. While the percussive groove of “Propose” might’ve benefitted from dustier, more traditional drums/drum programming, the emotion and meaningful nature of the marriage-themed song is undeniable.

As mentioned previously, MJB never really misses the mark, even if Think Like A Man Too doesn’t give her another The Breakthrough. That said, a few tracks are a bit less thrilling. “Self Love” is one of them, featuring excellent pieces in the adult contemporary R&B realm without completely ‘conquering’ it per se. Blige feels it, which is perceptible to the audience, but “Self Love” just doesn’t necessarily have the same oomph of say “See That Boy Again.”

Similarly, “Power Back” and “Better” also have some excellent pieces – namely within the production – but don’t quite achieve the elite level of the album’s best. As the old saying goes, “win some, lose some.”

Ultimately, Think Like a Man Too does much more than fulfill the music component for the film – it also gives hungry MJB fans something to ‘sink their teeth into’ until she releases her next proper studio album. Sure, Think Like A Man Too isn’t quite organized like the singer’s studio albums (maybe it still has the ignominy of serving as a soundtrack), but there’s definitely some worthwhile material worth the listen. 

Favorites:

“Vegas Nights,” “See That Boy Again,” “Wonderful,” “I Want You,”

Verdict: ★★★½

Mary J. Blige • Think Like A Man Too • Epic • US Release Date: June 17, 2014
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