In celebration of VIBE’s 20th anniversary, the mag chose Mary J. Blige to grace the latest cover for being legend who has influenced hip-hop culture since the start of her career. Over the weekend, she was honored at the VIBE impact awards in L.A., and today comes her full cover story with writer Siobhan O’Connor. In their interview Mary talks the current state of R&B, where she is musically, how she feels about today’s superstars and more.

Let’s talk about current R&B. How do you feel when you turn on the radio?
Maybe in 2012, in the middle, I was like, “What is going on? What is this?” Things got worse before they got better. I think things are going in the right direction. I am so proud of what Rihanna is doing.

Wait, really?
Yes. She is speaking to her generation, and she’s living her life in front of them. I don’t even think she’s purposely doing it (7). She’s such a beautiful girl, and I don’t think she knows she’s that beautiful (8). She’s just living her life, and leading her generation, and she has great, great songs. Her career is amazing; and her team, obviously, is amazing.

 Read more from the cover story after the jump…


People give her a hard time because of the whole Chris—
They give her a hard time because she’s living her life. As long as she’s having fun and isn’t three minutes away from wanting to shoot herself, good! I want her to be happy. That’s impressive to me. And I love her songs. Adele also gives me hope. God bless Amy Winehouse. She was just the perfect thing.

What about male artists?
Drake is amazing. He is an amazing writer: great songs, great melodies. And Kendrick Lamar has a classic album right now. Classic. It’s like The Chronic. I’m not saying it is The Chronic. But you know how that album felt like a movie, with a beginning, middle and an end? His album has that same thing. I also love Bruno Mars. They need to take him seriously. He. Is. A. Problem. And Miguel is amazing. His voice; his writing. All of his songs are beautiful. He is pure inspiration….

So where is your head at these days? The last album, the last two, were your “Mary’s Happy Now” moment. What about now?
I’m all about making the right kind of music for where I’m at in my life right now, and where I’m going. I’m wrapping my mind around it, and thinking about what people need from me right now.

What do you think people need?
You can’t get around pain and opposition, but you can try to be joyful in the trial, and thank yourself for the trial, and thank God for the strength to get through it. Because you could be dead, or sick. You’re talking about inner happiness, yeah.

What gave you this perspective?
Trial? Error? I’m not all the way there yet, but the fact that we can talk about it says I’m getting there. You can’t walk around hurting other people.

Mary J. Blige Celebrated By Diddy, Swizz Beatz, Queen Latifah at VIBE Impact Awards in L.A.