Last week on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the competing queens got to show all the tricks they have under their wigs in the series’ first-ever magic show challenge. In addition to performing different magic tricks in front of a live audience, the queens were responsible for creating witty dialogue and an entertaining run of show to impress the judges. Seasoned professional Nina West handily snatched the win, while fan favorites Shuga Cain and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo found themselves in the bottom two.
Shuga and Miss Vanjie had to Lip Sync For Their Life to the beloved Mary J. Blige classic “No More Drama.” It’s surprising that Drag Race has opted for two R&B tracks in a row, especially considering it’s a genre (and style of lip sync) that the show only dabbles in occasionally each season. Yet the interesting song choice has an equally interesting history; here are five things you probably didn’t know about “No More Drama.”
1. It samples the theme song for The Young and the Restless
The dramatic piano that accompanies Blige’s voice throughout the song should be instantly recognizable to soap opera fans: it’s a direct sample of “Nadia’s Theme,” a well-known tune from 1971 that has since been used as the opening theme for CBS’s iconic soap opera The Young and the Restless since its debut in 1973. The song was originally composed by Barry De Vorzon as part of the score for the 1971 film Bless the Beasts and Children, and later became associated with Romanian Olympic gymnast Nadia Com?neci during ABC’s coverage of the 1976 Olympics in Montréal. Blige even nods to the long-running show in the second verse by calling herself “young and restless.”
2. Blige released “No More Drama” as a single on September 11, 2001
The unfortunate timing of the song’s release would go on to inform the message that Blige chose to communicate while pushing the single. The music video, for example, shows Blige crying and singing at a wall of TV screens depicting helicopters and soldiers in Afghanistan with the chyron “America’s New War.” Combined with the song’s lyrical content, it was clear that Blige wanted “No More Drama” both at home and abroad.
3. The song (and the album) were inspired by Blige’s own troubles with alcoholism, drug abuse, and abusive relationships
In 2008, Blige told The Telegraph that every time she sings “No More Drama” in concert, she relives much of the pain that inspired it. “You’re drinking the alcohol and doing the drugs and being abused by men, and the pain and frustration of not being able to stop it… I rewind through that every time I sing it. I want to give people the real truth.” Much of her album, also named No More Drama, was fueled by Blige’s turbulent six-year relationship with Cedric “K-Ci” Hailey.
4. Mariah Carey and Diddy briefly appeared in the music video during their own highly publicized ‘dramas’
At the time of the song’s release, Blige wasn’t the only artist publicly navigating drama in their life. Mariah Carey suffered a nervous breakdown following the release of her movie Glitter and its accompanying soundtrack (coincidentally also released on 9/11), and Diddy was dealing with the legal fallout from a 1999 nightclub shooting. Blige asked them to appear in the video to further speak to the song’s message, appearing alongside characters like a struggling addict, a gang member and an abused woman, presumably characters from different points in Blige’s life—or meant to represent Blige herself.
5. Blige would later be scrutinized by the LGBTQ+ community for working with Diddy—despite being a longtime ally
By the end of 2001 the No More Drama album had gone platinum, and its success was only bolstered by a re-release in February 2002 that featured a hip-hop remix of “No More Drama” with her friend Diddy. In 2011, Diddy came under fire for another nightclub altercation; this time, he was taken into federal custody after getting violent with a club goer and calling him a “f—-t.” When asked about his behavior afterwards, Blige called homophobic bullying a “horrible” thing that’s “killing people.” It wouldn’t be the first time she stood up for the LGBTQ+ community: in 2007, she told The Advocate that she always makes a conscious effort to speak to her gay fans (who she says make up the majority of her fan base), and Blige would go on to express her support for marriage equality at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.