It's not yet known if "Stronger" will be on Mary's forthcoming album, set for release in November, but it was listed on DJ Storm's latest mixtape Desert Storm South R&B. Mary does most of the singing; Brown's presence is limited to some ad-libbing. It's not known if the two were in the studio at the same time when the song was recorded, or if Blige was even aware that Brown's vocals were included on the track, but at least one Chris Brown fan site says that Brown actually wrote the song, which was produced by Polow Da Don.
Interestingly, about a month after Brown's alleged assault on Rihanna — while the young couple was in the midst of a brief reconciliation — both TMZ and Us reported that the pop stars were secretly working on a duet during a couple of late-night recording sessions, with producer Polow Da Don, saying, "The theme is about being stronger and growing stronger in a relationship." Additionally:
We're told the song was originally written for Rihanna before the fight, but after the beat down the producer believed the track — which ironically focuses on overcoming difficult challenges as a couple — would be the perfect duet.
As we know, if those sessions did indeed take place, nothing ever came of them, and shorty thereafter, Rihanna broke it off with Brown for good. So is this the same song that Blige ended up recording? It certainly seems like it is, considering the lyrics ("We've been through it all/ We had some close calls…We'll survive / As long as you're by my side"), and the fact that the same producer is attached to each project.
It's difficult to know if Blige was aware of the extent of Brown's involvement with the track, or how closely it's tied to Brown and Rihanna's former relationship — mainly because she's yet to speak about it — but whenever she's been asked for her take on Brown's alleged assault, she's always given a very diplomatic answer, telling Us, "They're both young and beautiful people, and that's it."
Just this weekend, while being interviewed for DJ Whoo Kid's radio show on Sirius/XM, Mary was asked again about incident, and she replied, "I just know that they're both young, and it's hard when you're young and you're artists. It's two sides to every story, and people need to listen to both sides before they start killing the next person. I love them both."
The reason why she's so frequently asked this question is the same reason that her potential support of Brown is so baffling: Blige has witnessed, or experienced, much abuse at the hands of men. Her father beat her mother before he abandoned the family. Later on, she had a string of abusive boyfriends, most notably, singer K-Ci Hailey from Jodeci. Blige has described their six-year relationship as "Ike and Tina of the '90s" and "a private hell," saying, I'd rather stay around and take a beating then let him go. Because I felt like if I let him go, then I was gonna die." In 2006, she told Parade, "The relationship I was in was so terrible, I had a gun to my face. At that point, I said to myself, ‘There's something wrong with me. Guys don't want to stick around because they're ashamed of me.'"
While Blige doesn't often speak specifically about her relationship with K-Ci, she built a career out of the healing and strength she was able to take out of it. Because of that, she's become an advocate for the importance of women cultivating a strong sense of self, and even started a foundation for the advancement of women.
An endorsement from someone like Blige would be a real feather in Brown's cap, especially considering his upcoming court case. And maybe Blige has her own reasons for doing so, as a way to get some closure for herself by offering forgiveness to an alleged abuser (even if it's not her own). But if she's looking to forgive someone, maybe she should start with a person who's at least apologetic. Just last night, Brown may have openly mocked Rihanna by attending an NBA finals game with a woman who some say was dressed up as the pop star.
Seriously, Mary? [FourFour]
Mary J. Blige talks about K-Ci [YouTube]
Chris Brown — What Were You Thinking!!? [TMZ]
Mary J. Blige's New Song 'Stronger' Feat. Chris Brown [Ace Showbiz]