If Mary J. Blige looks particularly triumphant on the cover of her latest album, My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1), it's no coincidence. As she tells BET.com, the album, a follow-up to her 1994 classic My Life LP, reflects the latest point in her journey where she has pulled herself from the depths that gave birth to the original My Life and has found her viewing life in a completely different and progressive way.
"The first My Life album, we were like, hurt really, really bad. We was dark, we was ready to really kill ourselves basically and we just kept going and living," says Blige. "That's growth and evolution. And while you're growing and evolving, in the midst of all of that, there's still trials, there's still discomfort, but the only thing that can get you to change is discomfort. It's been painful for me. It's a painful thing to walk through that fire. So when you end up here on this My Life album, you ask were there any challenges? Absolutely. There was nothing but challenges, but the beautiful thing is I'm here to tell the story. I'm not dead. My journey continues."
Naturally everyone's first inclination will be to compare the sequel with it's seminal predecessor. However, Mary tells us straight up, there is no comparison.
"I'm not worried about the comparisons because it's not a competitor," she says matter of factly. "It's just an extension. I never do any album to beat it. I do it to extend it. We started a movement on the (1994) My Life album. I just wanted to show the growth and evolution of how far we've come and how we didn't even have understanding on why we were going through so much then. But right now we do understand and we know there will be more to go through. It wouldn't be life if we didn't. If we didn't have understanding of our journey we wouldn't be able to go on. We'd be stuck like 'Why me?'"
According to Mary there's an overarching positive theme she hopes her fans will get upon first listen: "I just want fans to walk away knowing that no matter what's going on, no matter how happy you are, no matter how sad you are, we did it. We're strong in this. We've come a long way and life is not just one thing. There's so many things that life is and no matter how many breakthroughs, trials will exist and we're going to get through it. Just be strong."
My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1) was released in stores today.
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(Photo: Courtesy Geffen Records)