Mary J. Blige and Black America’s London Connection

By Jamilah King Sep 02, 2014

Mary J. Blige is gearing up for the release of her new LP "The London Sessions" later this fall, and in a widely circulated interview with The Guardian, the reigning queen of hip-hop R&B opened up about working with new-kid-on-the-block Sam Smith, paying homage to Amy Winehouse, and the differences between making music in London versus the United States:

The sound in London at the moment is house music. That is what the majority of people are producing their songs like. But the ones that get truly successful are the ones using proper songwriting. Rudimental for example – they write proper songs and then produce them like dance music. And that is exactly what we’re trying to do, along with a few other people. But that applies to any genre, not just dance music. You could take the songs off Sam Smith’s album, produce them in a completely different way and they would still be a huge success – you could produce them like acid jazz and I still feel like they’d get somewhere.

Of course, Blige isn’t the first black American artist to find success over the pond. There’s a long history to it that includes Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix and dates back to the 1950s when African-American artists escaped the segregated South’s chitlin’ circuit and made money in the United Kingdom. What Blige’s move suggests is that the legacy of artistic freedom is still very much alive in London.

(h/t Pigeons and Planes)