Of the four new tracks included with this package, "We Ride (I See the Future)" stands out. Its graceful piano runs offer relief from the two-chord vamp common to Blige's oeuvre, while the tune's opening declaration "Everybody askin' why Mary ain't mad no more/Seems like a question I've already answered, too many times before" provides the real argument against this retrospective. Mary has never been about just hits; it's her rags-to-riches-to-respect backstory that ultimately captivates the fans. That's a point you can more fully appreciate after seeing Blige's gospel-fueled live show, a cathartic explosion of joy 'n' pain that's as much about affirmation as music. Put simply: Her life is her art, with no best-of necessary.
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