Hip-hop queen MARY J. BLIGE is on top of her game and the charts - but she was once so low she wanted to die.

The NO MORE DRAMA diva admits her days of drink and drugs drove her to the depths of despair, thoroughly wrecking her self esteem.

She even describes herself as once being nothing more than "a piece of s*** with a nice weave and makeup".

Mary says, "I didn't think I was pretty or smart. My dream when I was drinking, was that I wanted to be a stripper."

She adds that, after experimenting with every drug except crack, "I was ready to go! Like, get out of here, planet Earth, goodbye, die. I was so suicidal I would draw men to me who wanted to kill me."

Mary's upcoming new album LOVE + LIFE draws on her painful life experience, and celebrates her strength.

And, she insists, how she looks is as much as a part of it as how she feels - so she'll dress in any way she sees fit, and still get respect.

Mary adds, "If I choose to have my cleavage out, you still take me seriously. I might be a brick house, but you respect this brick house, because this brick house does her job well."

13/08/2003 13:59