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SATURDAY

There’s nothing “just Mary” about Mary J. Blige. Indeed, she’s gone to great weave and wig lengths to suggest that she’s more than just “plain ole Mary,” as she proclaims herself to be on her fifth and latest album, Mary. She’s got a tattoo of her stage name encircling her right bicep, and—lest we forget that she’s the Mary-est of them all—she used more than a dozen answering-machine messages as the intro on her 1992 debut, What’s the 411?. She revisited that shameless self-promotion tactic on Share My World, her third album, where a litany of cheers, accolades, and award nomination announcements added more than a minute of superfluous introductory hubris. Blige isn’t just “plain ole Mary”—and she never will be. Her iconic status is sealed in the bedrock of the hip-hop world. But in her new album, the girl from Yonkers, N.Y.—who emerged on the scene with big bamboo hoop earrings, a signature b-boy bounce, and combat boots—seems to be leaning more and more toward baby-I-love-you-and-I’ll-die-without-you R&B styling. Hiphop cameos and her signature street-sassy songs—along with her delightfully low and gritty voice—maintain the raw edge that keeps Blige hitched to hiphop. Still, her voice, nurtured in the Pentecostal church, keeps getting richer and stronger. With Jagged Edge and Avant at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, at DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D St. NW. $45. (202) 432-7328. (Nefretiti Makenta)