Mary J. Blige’s music can best be described as heavy. Because so much of her repertoire comes from a place of emotional trauma (or recovery from it), there are scant few MJB tracks that are kinda mindless fun. “Family Affair” is one of those mindless fun songs-and it became (chart-wise, at least) the biggest hit of her career.
The bouncy track was perfect for partying; producer Dr. Dre created the perfect dance groove. Mary’s performance is ebullient; you can picture her bopping around the studio, drink in hand, ready to get her groove on. You can even credit Mary for bringing the words “hateration” and “holleration” into existence, proof that she wasn’t taking herself too seriously on “Family Affair”.
I’m not sure what to make of the fact that “Family Affair” cruised to the top in the wake of the 9/11 tragedies. Maybe folks were using MJB’s song to escape from reality for five minutes. But there’s some irony in the fact that the most lightweight, carefree song by an artist whose music is usually so heavy became huge right after one of the heaviest periods in world history.