Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Mary J. Blige ft. Drake – Mr. Wrong

Given a choice between fierceness and Drakeness, which one would you pick?


Jamieson Cox: Drake’s placement at the forefront of “Mr. Wrong” is a bit of a mystery to me: I figured that nearly two decades into her illustrious career, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul had earned the right to the pole position on every one of her cuts, no matter how white-hot her guest star happens to be burning. The first minute could be an excerpt from a Take Care B-side, with its generic down-tempo maneuvers, patented blend of rapped and sung verse, and Bligelessness. Mary J. has an undeniable knack for infusing even the blandest material with a degree of emotional pull, but I can almost pinpoint the exact recipe for “Mr. Wrong”: eight hours in the studio, twelve emails back and forth with Drizzy, a mediocre beat gathering dust in a storeroom somewhere, and stank and pepper to taste. The result: another unmemorable piece of chart fodder.

Katherine St Asaph: Oh, that unctuous surprise Drake beginning the video; he stares you down with roughly the same look Chris Hansen gives Reddit. Here, he’s less Mr. Wrong than Mr. Wrongly Judged Flow, meandering through grumbles like “don’t it seem like, like I’m always there when it matters?” Don’t it. Fortunately, “Mr. Wrong” uses the “What’s My Name” template, which means it takes seconds to excise Drake and leave only Mary’s moodiness. Even then, she’s got better.

Jonathan Bogart: It’s easy enough to trim Drake out — he’s so stuck on autopilot that he doesn’t sound as if he’s even heard the rest of the song — but that still leaves a subpar Mary J. performance and a beat that sounds like the nth chillout remix of something that once snapped and strutted. Luckily, a subpar Mary J. performance is still a Mary J. performance.

Anthony Easton: A [2] or [3] for every Drake Verse, and a [10] for the almost religious ache of Blige’s gospel-tinged eroticism. The plodding beats, and the lack of proper decoration on the track itself, puts it on the negative edge of the median.

Sabina Tang: The cut without Drake is a [10] — and it’s not even that I dislike Drake, but his honking nasality puts an immediate dampener on the Caribou-esque gorgeousness of the backing track, from which the song takes a full verse to recover. That’s setting aside the structural oddity of letting the Darth Vader Boyfriend make his point first, before we’ve heard the charges, rather than the usual refutation or defusing. Perhaps it’s because Mary J., impossibly sad, would rather immolate than mount the offensive her friends might desire.

Brad Shoup: I should disclose that I’ve never cared for Blige’s perpetual campaign to make the song cry. But it’s three guys who’ve let her down, if you count her producers: they seem to have stopped at sluggish on the way to languid. I would’ve been happy to focus on the pointillistic pattering and the music box (a sound-cue that augurs no good, according to every movie ever), but the synth bass cuts a series of long farts to clear me out. As for Drake, he proves a too-apt partner in the should’ve-known-better.

Alfred Soto: Pairing these narcissists is like leaving two mirrors to get to know each other, and whaddya know, they do, although Drake’s presence is redundant enough for me to wonder who’s doing whom the favor. Reining in her penchant for yelling when given a clutch of self-help banalities, Blige sticks to the melody; she’s anguished and pissed off, no more no less, abetted by the sparkling, echo-laden production (love those organ notes). 

Michaela Drapes: How exactly am I supposed to read this: Mary the cougar? Drake the son of one of her galpals? Who cares, sans Drake’s blathering turn, this is a delicious slice of throwback quiet storm heartache — the kind of thing I hated as a teenager; the kind of thing I’m absolutely a bit of a sucker for now.

John Seroff: The ongoing success of Drake as anything more than a reflection of a generation’s vacuousness continues to depress me. “Canada Dry” was meant as a knock that the Great White North’s most profitable export wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight, but it’s more accurately understood not as a comment about Drake’s unwillingness to get bloody but his bloodlessness. This chill isn’t from the Ice Box; it’s simple fatuous neglect, the vaguely ironic embrace of dead-eyed cynicism given broader voice in the tattered mimeographed sonics of Jim Jonson and Rico Love and anyone else who confuses guarded selfishness with mystery and seduction. Bad enough I have to put up with the zombie youth movement on its own, but when this eczema tarnishes the rich patina of our holy lady Mary J., it’s enough to make a man cry alligator tears.

Comments are closed.