Not everyone who has a career spanning decades can continue to mount success, but not everyone is Mary J. Blige. The Queen of Hip Hop-Soul amassed six Grammy nominations this year thanks to her successful Good Morning Gorgeous release. Her impact on music history is undeniable, and in a feature for PEOPLE, Blige and Sean “Diddy” Combs talks about her growth as an artist and woman.
Blige and Diddy have been good friends from the inception of their careers. He produced her first two albums and has been by her side through each trial and triumph. “Mary J. Blige is one of the greatest storytellers in R&B history,” he said. “She created a lane for women around the world to speak their truth to power, so nobody deserves this success more than her.”
The singer echoed a similar sentiment when speaking about Combs.
“Puff was a huge inspiration for me,” she recalls. “He wanted all of this for me more than I wanted it myself.”
Diddy 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.”
Blige also contributes her drive for success to her friend. She said when she started, she was “afraid of success,” but Diddy was ambitious. Blige shied away from the attention that fame brought.
“When you come from where I come from, you’re scared to be ambitious,” she added. “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.”