Mary J. Blige Had to Go on Tour to Pay Alimony to Her Ex-Husband Kendu Isaacs After Their Divorce: ‘I Couldn’t Pay My Rent’

Music and movie star Mary J. Blige divorced her ex-husband Kendu Isaacs in a separation that largely played out in the public eye in the mid-2010s. Since then, Blige has recovered and risen from the ashes, but it wasn’t easy for her to get back on her feet.

Mary J. Blige performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show
Mary J. Blige | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Mary J. Blige divorced Kendu Isaacs in 2016

Blige and Isaacs first met over two decades ago when Queen Latifah insisted that Isaacs go on a date with Blige. She agreed, and they soon became a romantic item. They eventually tied the knot in 2003.

In 2016, Blige filed for divorce after rumors began swirling that he was using her money to pay for a mistress on the side. The divorce was finalized in 2018.

Mary J. Blige couldn’t pay her rent

Throughout the two-year process of separating and finalizing their divorce, Blige was ordered to pay alimony to Isaacs, whom she had been financially supporting for years.

In 2022, Blige spoke about how her divorce was factored into her album Good Morning Gorgeous, released just two days before her Super Bowl halftime show performance. One song in particular, the Dave East collab “Rent Money,” was written about not being financially secure after she filed for divorce.

“’Rent Money’ is [about] when I first got divorced,” she admitted on iHeartRadio’s The Box, hosted by Angie Martinez. “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 even admitted that paying alimony to her husband put her herself in a tight squeeze.

“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 career blossomed

Even though it was a hard time personally for Blige, professionally, she was reaching new heights she never had before over the past two decades. She was nominated for two Academy Awards for her role in Mudbound, including Best Original Song. She confessed in a 2021 interview on The Tamron Hall Show that she had no idea what was in store for her as she struggled to get through every day.

“I had no idea. I wasn’t counting on it or hoping. I just was trying to get through my life and get through those trials,” she said honestly. “When I saw you [in 2017], I was smack dab in the middle of a huge divorce, which is a heavy thing; it’s like a death.” 

“I was just moving forward,” she continued. “And as I was moving forward and trying to do the right thing, God was just opening up the sky on me. The Oscar nominations came in the middle of the hell. And I was like, ‘Oh, whoa!’”

“I just kept moving and I didn’t get bitter,” she concluded. “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.”

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