Mary J. Blige

With Musiq. Wednesday, April 28, at the State Theatre.

Jägermeister Tour, with Slipknot, Fear Factory, Chimaira, and 40 Below Summer Tower City Amphitheater, 352 Canal Road, the Flats 7 p.m. Saturday, April 17, $24.50 advance, $26 day of show, 216-241-5555
Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige
Since she debuted a dozen years ago, Mary J. Blige has come to be known as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. Any number of pretenders to that throne have emerged in the interim, yet no one has wrested the crown away from the original, whose What's the 411 created a dominant musical template that we now take for granted: passionate crooning backed by hard hip-hop beats and attitude. The P. Diddy protégée reunited with her mentor on her last outing, Life and Love -- a virtual paean to positivity after a decade of recorded pain -- and was rewarded with her second No. 1 pop album.

Although his understated, boy-next-door appeal might seem at odds with Blige's in-your-face street drama, Musiq actually makes a highly compatible opening act. The neosoul singer works a similar intersection of rap and R&B, leaning more toward the latter, but with many of the same vintage influences as Blige. He's made three fine, thoughtful albums, each demonstrating improvement; the latest, Soulstar, was one of 2003's best urban releases.

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