• Record Label: Geffen
  • Release Date: Dec 20, 2005

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. One of her best studio albums.
  2. Entertainment Weekly
    Thankfully returns some of the drama to her music. [23 Dec 2005, p.78]
  3. The Breakthrough is easily Blige’s finest full-length since ‘99’s Mary.
  4. Blige, never far from the thoughts of the lovelorn, didn't need a breakthrough, but anybody with an ear for artful confession will be glad she's given us The Breakthrough anyway.
  5. Ms. Blige brings together hip-hop realism and soul's higher aspirations, hip-hop's digitized crispness and soul's slow-building testimonies. [19 Dec 2005]
  6. What ultimately differentiates Blige's seventh studio album from previous discs is that its ballads truly matter.
  7. Where Love and Life limped from song to song, The Breakthrough zips confidently through its sixteen tracks.
  8. New Musical Express (NME)
    Mary J draws on an eventful life to reach new levels of feeling. [7 Jan 2006, p.29]
  9. Vibe
    Even cameos by today's hottest rappers can't shake Blige's nostalgic flair. [Mar 2006, p.186]
  10. Los Angeles Times
    Blige self-indulgently lets many songs on "The Breakthrough" run too long but keeps her sound fresh... adeptly weaving beats and live instruments, vocals and rapping, melody and rhythm in configurations alternately stark and lush. [11 Dec 2005]
  11. Blige may be celebrating no more drama in her life, but when she wants to, she can still sing like a drama queen. These are The Breakthrough's high points.
  12. It's another solid and undeniably enjoyable album. But from a woman as supremely talented as Blige, somehow enjoyable rates as a disappointment.
  13. Blender
    Her ardent love songs ultimately come off not as love songs but standard ache-and-pain Mary tracks--making this album not quite the breakthrough it might have been. [Mar 2006, p.109]
  14. Mojo
    Reveals a still intense and enthralling grittiness to her performances. [Feb 2006, p.93]
  15. Someone get this woman some drama, pronto.
  16. Spin
    Too often, Blige's voice doesn't get the space it needs to cut loose with emotion. [Feb 2006, p.85]
  17. Like a lot of her previous albums, The Breakthrough is overlong and spoilt by too many producers sticking their oar in.
  18. Whether or not her risks work, it's taking chances that pays dividends, not placing safe bets.
  19. The Breakthrough improves on 2003's Diddy-helmed misfire Love & Life but lacks the character of 1999's eclectic Mary.
  20. Urb
    All in all, it seems like the diva needs a little drama to get it percolatin'. [Mar 2006, p.123]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 53 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 48 out of 53
  2. Negative: 3 out of 53
  1. TylerM
    Jan 4, 2007
    I loved the album. tons of great inspirational songs that touched me in the right way! haha! I love it! Go Mary!
  2. viggyr
    Mar 20, 2006
    MAry J. Blige is so good! Be without you is one of my three favorite songs and it probably will be for a long time. She is really the queen of soul.
  3. Dec 9, 2013
    The Breakthrough was just that this was a joy ride cd where Mary seem to have reached the highest praises for this Smash CD and hit BeThe Breakthrough was just that this was a joy ride cd where Mary seem to have reached the highest praises for this Smash CD and hit Be Without You she shows a power arrange of Hip-Hop and R&B with a hint of soul. This is a must have cd speaking of The Breakthrough!! Full Review »