UpNorthTrips Presents The 10s | Hardcore Rap and Mary J. Blige Records
Some of history’s mightiest Queens have been celebrated for their beauty, charm, and talent. Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth are a few women who’ve ruled full of ferocity, emotion and dominance. In music terms, the title “Queen” isn’t taken lightly. An artist’s impact and longevity to her craft are important elements to take into consideration before that honor is bestowed. When it comes to the Queen of R&B, there are many names that are synonymous with that legacy. When it comes to Hip-Hop and R&B, there is only one name that can hold the weight: Mary J. Blige.
Long-time fans have witnessed the talented singer from Yonkers achieve success and glory spanning three decades: Her Highness has eight multi-platinum albums and has won nine Grammy awards, the only artist to score wins in the Pop, Rap, Gospel and R&B categories.
In order to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the release of her debut album, What’s The 411?, UpNorthTrips threw together a mix of ten dope “hardcore rap and Mary J. Blige records.” Enjoy.
“Real Love (Remix) [Up North Blend]” ft. Notorious B.I.G.
Breakdown: The only way to start off this mix is with what I consider the blueprint for R&B remixes. No, it probably wasn’t the first time that a rapper dropped sixteen bars on a R&B remix, but let’s be honest: It’s really the only one that matters, feel me?
“I Love You (Remix)” ft. Smif-n-Wessun
Breakdown: Mary J. and Smif-n-Wessun are an odd collabo by today’s standard. Back in the nine-nickel, though, the formula of Mary’s soulful voice with the street patois style of Tek and Steele was genius. The hypnotizing piano loop [Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Mood"] is one of the reasons that this record comes as hard as it does, and two decades later, Mary J. and Nas reunited over the same reworked sample for “Reach Out,” a cut which appears on Nas’ latest, Life Is Good.
“Sincerity” ft. DMX & Nas
Breakdown: Mary J. linked with fellow Yonkers native DMX, as well as Nas, for a bonus cut from her fourth album, Mary. The track, which perfectly flips the forever-sampled Bob James track “Nautilus,” is one of only a handful of collabos in which the Dog traded bars with God’s Son.
“All That I Got Is You (Mighty Mi Remix)” ft. Ghostface Killah
Breakdown: There is no questioning how both Ghost and Mary J spilled their guts on this ‘hood classic. Ghost’s reminiscing of the rough life coming up, and Mary’s soulful hook is beautifully orchestrated over RZA’s sampled production of The Jackson 5′s “Maybe Tomorrow.” On his version, Mighty Mi reworked the track over a crazy drum break to make it knock even harder.
“Deep Inside (Up North Blend)” ft. Mobb Deep
Breakdown: Prodigy says it best, “Infamous and Mary Blige, straight ghetto poetry.” The Kings of Queens link up to redo this cut off MJB’s fourth album. Our man, @UnitedCrates, laced it even better with a Mobb-Centric “Up North Blend.”
“Family Affair (Pete Rock Remix)” ft. CL Smooth
Breakdown: Mary kept it close to home with this one. The original featured fellow Westcheddar native, Jadakiss, along with Fabolous, but on the remix she enlisted the duo from Money Makin’ Mount Vernon. Pete Rock brought a different sound to the original Dr. Dre-produced record while CL added his own bars to complete the 914 trilogy.
“I Can Love You (Up North Blend)” ft. Lil’ Kim
Breakdown: It’s a Queen thing. The Queen of R&B meets the Queen Bee on this record from Mary’s third album, Share My World. The OG Rodney Jenkins produced joint contains a sample from Lil ‘Kim’s “Queen Bitch” and was one of the producer’s earliest works. But for now enjoy one of the Vinylcologist’s fresh “Up North Blends.”
“All I Need Remix (Up North Blend)” ft. Method Man
Breakdown: Timeless. Like Marvin and Tammi, Mary and Meth are a superb pair. This is one of those records that epitomizes Mary’s greatness.
“Be Happy (Ron G. Remix)” ft. Greg Nice
Breakdown: Why did we pick this joint and not the original “Bad Boy Butter Mix” with Keith Murray, you ask? Well, we figured this one (produced by NYC mixtape legend, “the youngest in charge” Ron G) to be the rarer of the two. Plus, we have an affinity for Greg Nice verses (so slept on).
“What’s The 411?” ft. Grand Puba
Breakdown: Mary J. and Puba traded features in ’92 (Mary appeared on “Check It Out” from Reel to Reel). The greatest part about this song here is that MJB spits bars and Puba sings! Another great moment is when the duo performed this on Yo! MTV Raps. Big Kids In Full Effect!