Mary J. Blige’s New Song ‘Rent Money’ Is About Her Divorce

Grammy-winning musician Mary J. Blige had her divorce play out in the public eye in the mid-2010s. When she burst onto the scene in the early 1990s, she sang candidly about things affecting her in her life, and now, three decades later, not much has changed.

Mary J. Blige posing for a photo
Mary J. Blige | Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Mary J. Blige divorced her ex-husband Kendu Isaacs in 2016

Blige first met her ex-husband, music industry producer Kendu Isaacs, over two decades ago. Their mutual friend Queen Latifah introduced the pair. They tied the knot in 2003 and remained married for over 12 years.

In 2016, Blige filed for divorce after rumored infidelity on his part; he was also rumored to have been using Blige’s money to finance trips and other gifts for his mistress. The divorce became final in 2018.

Mary J. Blige explored her divorce on ‘Rent Money’

Blige released her 2017 album Strength of a Woman amid her divorce. Unsurprisingly, the album spoke to Blige’s strength and resilience and how women have to be in general.

In 2022, she released her first album in five years, Good Morning Gorgeous, just two days before her performance at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show. Before the album’s release, Blige released singles, including the Dave East collab “Rent Money.”

Blige explained in an interview with Angie Martinez on iHeartRadio’s The Box that the song drew inspiration from feeling financially insecure during that time.

“’Rent Money’ is [about] when I first got divorced,” she revealed. “I had to give up all this alimony, and I didn’t have no more money to give because he had spent it all.”

“I had to go on tour and make all the money back to pay the alimony,” she added.

Blige confessed that paying alimony to Isaacs put her in a tight spot in her own life — both financially and personally.

“I didn’t have no money to pay my rent and all this other stuff,” she said. “But it’s also a metaphor like, I didn’t have my soul. I was just drained of everything. So it was time for somebody to pay; sometimes you just feel like somebody gotta pay.”

Mary J. Blige’s life today

Blige’s career has only continued to blossom after her divorce. She appeared in TV shows and movies, including Power Book II: Ghost and the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect. She was nominated for two Academy Awards for her role in Mudbound, including Best Original Song. In a 2021 interview on The Tamron Hall Show, she confessed that she wasn’t expecting the Oscar nominations at all, as she was too busy focusing on her divorce.

“I just kept moving, and I didn’t get bitter,” she said. “I was upset, but I just let God take the wheel and do his thing because if I had done anything, it would’ve been a disaster.”

Even after headlining the Super Bowl halftime show and releasing a new album, Blige has no intentions of slowing down. Her friend and fellow halftime show performer Dr. Dre revealed after the Super Bowl that the two are working together on another new project.

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