Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Monica Monica 3 Monica again

Monica, the Grammy Award-winning singer and actress is back with a new album “The Makings Of Me” released this week through J Records. The first single “Everytime Tha Beat Drop” features Dem Franchize Boyz and is a snippet of her hometown Atlanta. “We all just want to dance and have fun. The single typifies the Atlanta attitude perfectly” says Monica.
Despite rumours she was parting company with her record company, “The Makings Of Me” has done well in America and subsequently has re-bonded the liaison which is clearly mutually beneficial. “All record companies and their artists have disagreements from time to time. Any differences of opinion have been largely overcome and I’m just keen to promote the new album,” she says confidently. As to the album itself, Monica is full of enthusiasm. “It’s kind of a musical self-portrait. I think it’s motivational too. I believe that you can make it if you believe in what you love. For me, what I love is music... I have an ongoing love affair with music. It’ll probably last as long as I live.”

Monica, 26, has made a point of ‘expressing’ herself since she first
emerged in 1995. This continues unabated with her new set which
includes a case in point, 'Sideline Ho'. “I was writing about a cheating
ex-boyfriend. He thought he was so smart but everyone knew he was
cheating on me,” she recalls. “Just the sound of her name would make my flesh crawl. I was not in a happy place.” Monica chose to tell her story because she realized its universal appeal. “People are cheatin’ on other people all over the world, all the time. It’s nothing new but the hurt remains the same."
Out of a strange-to-understand respect for her ex, he remains anonymous. “He’s nothing to do with me now, so I have no reason to be bitter. I don’t particularly want to cause him any grief. He was simply the inspiration and reason for a song I wrote. As for her, I think she’s struggling to make a living working on video sets. End of story.”
Monica’s new album features her rapping with Twista (“Hell No”), and
sampling Curtis Mayfield and working with Missy (“A Dozen Roses”).
“It was a great experience and I really feel the album itself represents the real essence of me.” The album also sees her open up about witnessing her first love - Jarvis Weems’ tragic death in 2000 on the touching ballad “Get Away”. “Him committing suicide changed my life,” she reflects sombrely. “It brought me closer to God which was where I needed to be. For the first time I wished I’d had a normal job, and could take time off to grieve. I had to live with my situation publicly which is pretty hard for a 19 year old. I’ve learned from that experience that it’s important to show people you love them as much as possible while they’re there. You can’t predict what life will bring. There was no way for me to prepare for what happened.”
Meanwhile, Monica has found happiness in her personal life having giving birth to a son - Rodney Jnr. - with a little help from Rowdy Records co-founder Rodney Hill. “He’s just 21 months old and he’s gorgeous. I love the unconditional love he gives. I love not having to be so self-absorbed. I have another focus in my life and I’m loving it.”
Rodney’s godfather is Ludacris who just happens to be Monica’s cousin.
“He’s played a major part in motivating me. He’s been there for my son
teaching him to swim or having cookouts - just doing family things we’ve
always done. He’s been great. And I’m not ruling out a future collaboration with him. It is a possibility.”

Monica has clearly matured - her life experiences have prompted that.
Her voice now has a new resilience and confidence which comes only
from life experience itself. Nothing in her tone suggested she was the
hard-to-get-along-with diva who had a rumoured feud with Brandy in the
late '90s. However, she has seen both the highs and lows of fame.
“You grow and mature with those experiences and you get different
priorities in your life. I’m glad that I have the opportunity to make my
feelings pubic and that I have a vehicle to voice those opinions.
And some things you experience make you realize that some things you
think are important, aren’t really. For instance, some people I’m close to
have children who suffer from autism. I’m finding different ways to be
involved in such things. I know that everything that affects anyone’s child,
directly affects them.”
As to her public image, she admits that often you have little or no control
over what the public gets fed by the media. “The worst part is that you
can never really control what is written about you which in turn affects the
way that the general public perceive you. I can only be honest with myself
and honest with the media. Beyond that I have no control.”

One thing she does have control over is her own performing which she loves. “I’ve always had a real buzz about performing live.You have an instant rapport with the audience which, hopefully, increases as the performance continues. It’s a feeling like no other... that feeling of touching’ your audience, making them laugh or cry.”
She has no plans to do live shows in the immediate future but admits the idea of an all-female tour would be appealing. “If I felt it was something that could happen then I would be 100% with it. Maybe a tour with Fantasia, Latoya, Keisha Cole. There are so many talented women and it would be something different for audiences. Girl power in its best and most creative form.”
And Monica is optimistic about the current music scene too. “I love the
scene now because it has so much variety. I think there’s more
opportunity now for new talent to break through. There’s a lot of fresh
young talent just waiting for a chance. And it’s great to see Mary J. Blige doing so well. She’s my all time favourite artist, not because she’s a friend, but because she’s a strong woman and extraordinarily talented. She’s a great example for any aspiring performer."
Finally, Monica has some advice for those aspiring stars: “Well, I haven’t
figured out the exact formula for success - I’m not sure there is one.
However, I do think that people want to hear honesty and reality in music - I try to do that as much as possible. Also, stay focused and keep your beliefs intact. Hopefully, one day, people will share your vision. You have to stay steadfast.”

“The Makings Of Me” is out now through J Records.
Words Fiona McKinson

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