Mary J. Blige
Think Like A Man Too Soundtrack (to be released June 17, 2014)
Ask, and ye shall receive, playas.
Not that long ago, we reminisced about how awesome soundtracks were in the 1990s, soundtracks that often eclipsed the success of the movies they promoted. But like most great things from the 90s – like Surge and Biggie Smalls – those days are long gone.
Enter the Queen.
When it was announced that Mary J. Blige was taking the reigns of the Think Like A Man Too soundtrack, not only would fans be treated to essentially a whole new Mary album, but they had a great chance of getting a soundtrack as strong as its ’90s predecessors.
Good news: Not only is this a great soundtrack but it’s solid addition to MJB’s already-stellar catalog.
If there’s one complaint I’ve had about those soundtracks of old, is that they sound disjointed – no surprise since they were comprised of a million different artists and producers presenting a million different concepts. That’s not an issue here – the album is cohesive and consistent. Mary is in charge.
Over the past year or so, there’s been a renewed push for feel-good R&B, leaning heavily on templates created decades ago. The first half of Think Like A Man Too fits that mold. MJB’s remake of Shalamar’s “Night to Remember” dials the clock back to the 80s – an infectious summer jam that will be a must at your next cookout. “Moment of Love” and “Vegas Nights” conjure memories of ’80s funk, with Mary shouting out legends like Michael, Gladys and Otis on the latter. The-Dream pops up too and, well, he could have kept those high notes, playa. Mary even sounds like she’s having a blast on the groovy “See That Boy Again,” where she haplessly stalks a guy after letting him slip through her fingers.
But I know, I know. Y’all aren’t happy unless Mary is miserable. And while there’s nothing as dark as My Life here, Mary J. takes time to get serious.
Mary used tribal drums to perfection on her last release and they return here on “Self Love,” where she pleads for her mate to love her as much as he loves himself. She’s not playing games on “Power Back,” where she realizes that she gains strength by taking charge: “When I stop calling he’s on my phone/that’s that power back/When it seems I don’t care, he’s right there/that’s that power back.” And if that’s not good enough, Mary’s more than willing to back her bags on the radio-friendly “Suitcase.”
The album does suffer from a few dull spots and might have needed some trimming. “I Want You” is supposed to be bluesy and emotional but comes off oddly flat in spaces, even when Mary’s yelling at the top of her lungs. Also, it’s just WAAAY too long. “Better” is pretty lethargic as well.
Instead, I wish we got more energetic life lessons like “Kiss and Make Up”: “Put on some makeup so you can kiss and make up … that’s how you know it’s really love.” MJB makes a better marriage counselor than Steve Harvey.
Yeah, you read that right.
Does Think Like A Man Too live up to the reputation of great ’90s soundtracks that are even better their films? I’ll make that ruling when I see the movie. But I think Kevin Hart n’ dem have their work cut out for themselves, Mary J is a tough act to follow.
Best tracks: “Kiss and Make Up,” “See That Boy Again,” “Suitcase”
4 stars out of 5