Mary J. Blige
When it comes to the prototypical urban songstress, there's no one who commands more respect than the legendary Mary J. Blige. New urban starlets such as Keyshia Cole, Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys have all named her as influences, and she's been the marquee name within female R&B for the past 16 years. She's gone through her share of stages; remember thug Mary, Badboy affiliate and long-term love interest of K-Ci from Jodeci? Those days weren't all that pretty. Creatively, she was at an apex, but personally, she was going through drama. Bouts of drugs and alcohol have hampered Blige in the past, but like a real "in the streets" diva, she exposed listeners to all of it through her songs. Those who pay attention have seen Mary J. at her best and worst, but a portion of America has grown up listening to her and learning from her because of that as well. That's why it's impossible to consider anyone except Mary J. as the Queen of R&B. Even if you only became a fan halfway into her career, she's still got enough classic material in her repertoire to rock the Hard Rock all night long.
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