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Leak Peek: Mary J. Blige's 'The London Sessions'
With more than a month until Mary J. Blige's thirteenth studio album The London Sessions was slated to hit stores, the 12-track LP has leaked to the Internet.
On Sunday, Oct. 26, the project hit the web well ahead of its U.K. Nov. 24 and U.S. Dec. 2 release date. While leaks this far in advance can be damning for such a high-profile project, many artists have subsequently found success in spite of the security break. A$AP Rocky's major label debut, Long.Live.A$AP, made its way online roughly one month prior to its Jan. 15, 2013, street date, and still debuted atop the Billboard 200 with 139,000 copies sold in its first week. Beyoncé faced a similar fate with her fourth studio album 4, which leaked three weeks before its June 24, 2011 street date. That album also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 310,000 copies sold.
For Blige, though, The London Sessions comes in a line of waning album sales. She recorded the entirety of the soundtrack for June's Think Like a Man Too, debuting at No. 30 on the Billboard 200 with 8,700 copies sold in its first week. Last year's A Mary Christmas bowed at No. 23 with 12,000 copies sold, while its predecessor My Life II...The Journey Continues (Act 1), which impacted in Nov. 2011, found notably stronger success, entering the Billboard 200 at No. 5 with 156,000 copies sold.
The veteran R&B singer may benefit from the leak, given its superb quality. The album, which sees Blige collaborating with London it-list musicians Sam Smith, Disclosure and Naughty Boy, is objectively her best since 2005's The Breakthrough, one of her highest-selling LPs to date. The project is roughly split between rough-edged, bare ballads like the tender "Not Loving You" and the piano-driven "Worth My Time," and house-powered dancefloor fodder including the synth-zapped single "Right Now" and clarinet-festooned "Pick Me Up."
In preparation for the album's release, Blige has released several behind-the-scenes clips on YouTube documenting the project as well as a music video for "Right Now," where Blige explores London and performs at an intimate club.