Mary J. Blige On How Witnessing Abuse During Childhood Shaped Her Music: ‘I’d Never Seen A Woman Treated Right Other Than My Grandmother’
Dennis Leupold

On the latest episode of LeBron James’ timely new HBO webseries, The Shop, the NBA icon sits down for an introspective chat with a star-studded group of game changers from across multiple industries, which includes none other than award-winning songstress and actress, Mary J. Blige.

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During a brief but candid discussion with James, his business partner and best friend Maverick Carter, Lena Waithe, Nas and Chris Bosh, Blige spoke honestly about how witnessing the abuse of the women around her as young girl inspired to her to make music that empowers women.

“I’ve been on [women empowerment] since I was a kid because my mom and all the women in my neighborhood where I grew up at, they were always being abused,” she said. “I’d never seen a woman ever treated right other than my grandmother.

Seeing the women in her circle constantly mistreated ultimately played a large part in shaping the content of her music as an artist.

“I always said that I wanted to save them,” Blige added. “I wanted to help them because I couldn’t take how they were being treated.”

Adding to her commentary, James reminisced about watching his mother and her cousins debate various topics while listening to Blige’s music, which in turn led to him growing up on her authentic sound.

“Mary’s album was always playing in the background,” he said. “So, I was like, I don’t quite understand this, but I’m gonna by into this music. I swear, you’re like my mom’s sister. I grew up on Mary’s albums because my mom and her cousins, they would just get into like, Black girl shit [while listening to her music].”

Blige also spoke briefly on how the things she witnessed as a young girl also led her to become involved in abusive relationships as an adult and how those experiences influenced the messaging in her music, while James revealed how both everyday people and fellow athletes have inspired him on his journey to success.

You can check out the latest episode of The Shop on HBO.

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