Today GARAGE Magazine revealed its nineteenth issue, featuring Mary J. Blige by Hood By Hair, the radical fashion collective that birthed ‘luxury streetwear.’
Photographed by Renell Medrano in an exclusive portfolio for the magazine, the cover and accompanying editorial depict legendary singer wearing various looks from the Hood By Air archive, in celebration of the brand’s 13th anniversary and highly anticipated relaunch.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Deidre Dyer, MJB and Hood By Air’s Shayne Oliver discuss what pushes them to succeed, their responsibility to the public, and Black futures.
On her career having a consistent track record of rethinking and reinventing. Making really strong comebacks with each new phase. And what has propelled her to move forward each time:
For me it was the problems, each and every time, that allowed me and gave me the strength to make it through these heavy trials that [have] come to help me grow. When I [make it] through something great, or if I’m trying something that I’ve never done before, those are the things that keep pushing me forward in order to get to these amazing things that I never thought could be possible. What propels me is being able to get through the hard times, and rejoicing when something major happens. It’s not just about making it through, but coming out strong. Fitter, better, and stronger. I see myself like, “Oh, wow, I’m better. I got a lot of work to do, but I’m stronger. I did something great. I can do that.”
On what do she sees in her early work that resonates with her now in 2020:
When I look back—because lately I’ve been listening to a lot of my material, just to get me through the pandemic. I don’t know why. I’ve just been playing a lot of Mary J. Blige— But I don’t normally do that. And what I learned is that I was stronger than I even thought I was. When I listen to the song “My Life,” when it comes to the lyrics, this little girl was lost. She was traumatized, she was drinking her pain away, she was doing drugs till she couldn’t do them no more. She was depressed, she was dark, she was all these things. But she was writing these songs that resonate with this Mary J. Blige that’s none of that. So when I listen to those songs, it just gives me the chills, because they minister back to me. They inspire me again.
I was just writing the things I didn’t have, and I was writing from a place of lows, when now, when I look at those words, those places were high. And I looked into the Growing Pains album the other day, because Kamala [Harris] made me think about the song “Work That.” I listened to those lyrics and said, “Oh, my gosh. I was really stronger and smarter than I thought I was.”
Photographer: Renell Medrano. Creative Direction: Hood By Air. Fashion Director: Gabriella Karefa-Johnson.