Those defining rainy-day tunes are gone, but the Queen's reign is far from overSeemingly obsessed with overthrowing Mary Jane Blige with every and any R&B preemie who can belt notes from the gut, pundits are ready to turn down the volume on the refined diva's celebratory tunes . Memo to whomever it may concern: Mary J. Blige ain't dead yet. With the release of her seventh studio album, The Breakthrough, Blige is singing—and looking—better than ever. Although this column is typically reserved for men with royal pedigrees, few will argue that the 34-year-old has had a career that is ballsy and majestic.

A lot of fans point to the My Life album as your high point. You have said you hate that album. Why?
At that time, it was such a dark, suicidal album. I really tried to distance myself from My Life. Now it's my favorite, because it reminds me I made it out of such a dark hole.

"Dark hole” is so general. Can you be more specific about your struggles?
When I was 19, I looked like I was 40. I was in abusive relationships and dealing with drugs. That was the point where I was like, I have got to find out a way to fix myself. By the time I got to No More Drama, I was ready to kill myself. But when my husband came along, he reached out his hand in the dark, [past] all these people that were drinking and doing drugs with me.