Not so long ago, no artist in his or her right mind would have dreamt of putting out an album after Thanksgiving, but all that changed several years ago when rappers like Method Man and Redman put out a new project around Turkey Day and sales were strong. While it’s still relatively rare, this year has seen a number of platinum plus artists releasing new projects post-Thanksgiving this year.

And now, we have a bonafide superstar, Mary J. Blige, putting out a new collection three days before Christmas. That makes her poised to be a likely choice for folks with iTunes gift cards burning a hole in their pocket on Dec. 25. 

Still, there are only a handful of releases coming out this week and most of them, as happened the week of Thanksgiving, are coming out off cycle on Monday (Dec. 21) instead of the usual Tuesday. Head up: we’ll take a break next week as there are no new releases of merit coming out Dec. 29, but we’ll be back in the 2010. Happy New Year!

 
Mary J. Blige, “Stronger with Each Tear” (Matriarch/Geffen): The leading lady of soul returns and she’s in a collaborative frame of mind. Guests on the album include Drake, T.I. and Trey Songz, while such top flight producers as Rodney Jerkins, Tricky Stewart, the Dream, Ne-Yo and Raphael Saddiq also contribute. The set includes, “Color,” from the film “Precious.”
 
Eminem, “Relapse: Refill” (Aftermath/Interscope): With “Relapse 2” pushed back to 2010, Marshall Mathers fans can get their fix with this re-issue of “Relapse,” complete with five previously unreleased tracks, plus “Taking My Ball,” first heard in the DJ Hero video game, and ‘Forever,” featuring Drake, Kanye West and Lil Wayne.
 
Hurricane Chris, “Unleashed” (Polo Grounds Music/RCA): Young rapper’s second release contains the undisputedly true title, “Halle Berry [She’s Fine].” While the Oscar winner doesn’t appear on the track, Mario and Bobby Valentino do
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Mudvayne, “Mudvayne” (Epic): Hard rockers’ fifth album latest comes in three different formats; including two that contain a black light to fans can view the cover. Single, “Scream with Me,” landed at No. 2 on AOL’s Top Rock Songs of 2009.
 
Various Artists, “We are Young Money” (Young Money/Universal Motown): Lil Wayne’s label releases this mixtape that includes contributions from Lloyd, Pleasure P, Birdman, Gucci Mane and more.