How Mary J. Blige Rediscovered Herself In London

In the latest episode of The FADER’s Earlier That Day, a tattooed culture icon reigns supreme.

Mary J. Blige releases her 13th album next week titled The London Sessions, a decidedly different fare for the R&B icon, which finds her collaborating with UK producers like Jimmy Napes and Naughty Boy, as well as artists including Sam Smith, Disclosure and Emeli Sandé. While Blige, who wrote and recorded the album over three months in London, has long loved and referenced house music, the effort doesn't come at the expense of her roots; as a matter of fact, Blige says she's still the same fly girl from the projects. "Who I am naturally—I can't deny that," said Blige at a New York City hotel last month. "I have swag, I have this, I have that; I will always be Mary J. Blige."

We kicked it with Blige as she got ready for her surprise performance at The FADER FORT presented by Converse. As she got primed and primped, the singer spoke candidly about going from the projects to London, what she remembers most about her fans every night and even her tattoos.

How Mary J. Blige Rediscovered Herself In London