Mary J. Blige has released four albums since her tumultuous relationship with former Jodeci front man K-Ci Hailey ended in 1997, each chronicling a different stage in the postbreakup struggle to find love and self-respect. The first, Mary, was about prideful mourning: the "fuck him, I'm awesome" period. The second, No More Drama, was the summer of parties, drunken rebounds, and private crying jags. The third, Love & Life, was the new relationship and clarity you get after dropping six grand on therapy. And the title of her latest, the double-platinum The Breakthrough (Geffen), says it all. Our Lady of Perpetual Survivalhood's feeling good: she's got God, a good man, self-love, gratitude, and a shelf full of Marianne Williamson, and she's here to share her experiences with every woman who's ever suffered like she did. It's her best work yet, filled with big and boisterous singles, and every song has actual substance beneath the radio shimmer. And it's just plain nice to finally hear Mary so happy. Bow Wow headlines tonight's lineup, which features (in order) Dem Franchize Boyz, Chris Brown, Sean Paul, Rihanna, Blige, Ne-Yo, DJ Flipside, Pink, T-Pain, and Ray J. Sat 6/24, 5 PM, Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem, Bridgeview, 708-594-7200 or 312-559-1212, $25-$55. All ages.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Markus Klinko & Indrani.