Mary J. Blige - Real Love
Mary J Blige Real Love Remix
Uptown finally greenlit production for Mary's debut album in 1991. Andre Harrell's young protégé, up-and-coming label executive, Sean "Puffy" Combs was asked to oversee the project. Also enlisted were some of the top R&B and hip-hop producers of the time, among them were Tony Dofat, Mark Morales (of The Fat Boys fame) and Mark C. Rooney, and Dave "Jam" Hall. Also included in the producers mix were Combs, and Donald "DeVante Swing" DeGrate (member of, and driving force behind, fellow Uptown act Jodeci). The latter association would introduce Mary to Jodeci group member Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey, with whom she embarked on a long and tumultuous relationship.
On July 28, 1992, Uptown released What's the 411?. That summer, the album's lead single, "You Remind Me", (which consists of elements from Patrice Rushen's song "Remind Me", from her 1982 album Straight from the Heart) was released to radio and eventually peaked at number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and climbed to number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. It was followed up that fall with "Real Love", which fared even better – becoming Blige's second number-one on the R&B chart and first top ten Hot 100 single, where it peaked at number seven. Both singles were also certified Gold.
More What's the 411? singles followed into 1993, including: "Reminisce", a cover of Rufus's 1975 "Sweet Thing", and "Love No Limit". By the end of the year, What's the 411? had sold two million copies, and Mary had been crowned "The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul". Mary confesses at the time she believed the title to be nothing more than a marketing tool. The album's success spun off What's the 411? Remix, a remix album released in December that was used to extend the life of the What's the 411? singles on the radio into 1994, while Mary prepared for her sophomore album.