Photo: Todd Williamson/NBC/Contributor via Getty
  /  01.25.2023

Mary J. Blige is PEOPLE‘s February cover girl! In the corresponding interview, the “Real Love” singer was joined by Sean “Diddy” Combs as they spoke about their iconic friendship. “Mary J. Blige is one of the greatest storytellers in R&B history,” Combs told PEOPLE. “She created a lane for women around the world to speak their truth to power, so nobody deserves this success more than her.”

Combs produced Blige’s debut album, What’s the 411?, as well as her 1994 follow-up, My Life, back when he was better known as Puff Daddy. “Puff was a huge inspiration for me,” Blige recalled. “He wanted all of this for me more than I wanted it myself.” The record executive and living legend added, “More than being my sister and my best friend, she will forever be a pioneer and the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, who remains an unstoppable force that can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.”

 

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Blige also went on to admit, “I was not as ambitious as Puff. When I met him, I was afraid of success, afraid to do anything that could put so much attention on me. When you come from where I come from, you’re scared to be ambitious. You’re scared to want more. And then when I met him, he was the complete opposite. He was such a good thing for me because I needed what he had, to be excited to be seen, to have the lights on him. But it took some years to grow into that.”

Blige, who is widely revered as the Queen of Hip Hop Soul and the Queen of R&B, has released over a dozen studio albums and won nine Grammy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and more. She is also currently a lead actress in the Starz series “Power Book II: Ghost.”

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