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'What’s the 411?' is the juggernaut debut from Mary J. Blige, a stunning project with six huge singles that set Blige’s legendary status ablaze until this day. “Reminisce” charted at No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and the endearing Chaka Khan cover “Sweet Thing” sprung to No. 5 on the Hot 100 chart and topped Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. In addition, the timeless “Love No Limit” shot to No. 4 on the Hot 100, too. The release would end up going triple Platinum; to say this was simply a popular breakout record would be an understatement. Notable MCs of the era Grand Puba and Busta Rhymes also make memorable appearances on the album.
The production is underscored by ‘90s boom-bap with propulsive bass and a pastiche of samples, making it one of the first R&B records to carry such an aesthetic. With Blige’s melodic touches and powerful delivery, these tracks are surely R&B but at times, sound grimy, too, something most MCs of the era could’ve easily recorded over. The rough, sometimes jagged production proved to be a winning combination that made 'What’s the 411?' one of the most important R&B releases of all time. With this album, and rightfully so, Mary J. Blige bridged the gap between New Jack Swing, rap, R&B, and soul, and was eventually deemed the ‘Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.’
Side A 1. Leave A Message 2. Reminisce 3. Real Love 4. You Remind Me 5. Intro Talk 6. Sweet Thing 7. Love No Limit
Side B 1. I Don't Want To Do Anything 2. Slow Down 3. My Love 4. Changes I've Been Going Through 5. What's the 411