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Issue 1084

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Feature

THE MAKINGS OF MONICA

Monica
Monica Monica 3 Monica again

Monica, the Grammy Award-winning singer and actress is back with a new album âThe Makings Of Meâ released this week through J Records. The first single âEverytime Tha Beat Dropâ features Dem Franchize Boyz and is a snippet of her hometown Atlanta. âWe all just want to dance and have fun. The single typifies the Atlanta attitude perfectlyâ says Monica.
Despite rumours she was parting company with her record company, âThe Makings Of Meâ has done well in America and subsequently has re-bonded the liaison which is clearly mutually beneficial. âAll record companies and their artists have disagreements from time to time. Any differences of opinion have been largely overcome and Iâm just keen to promote the new album,â she says confidently. As to the album itself, Monica is full of enthusiasm. âItâs kind of a musical self-portrait. I think itâs 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. Itâll probably last as long as I live.â

Monica, 26, has made a point of âexpressingâ herself since she first
emerged in 1995. This continues unabated with her new set which
includes a case in point, 'Sideline Ho'. âI was writing about a cheating
ex-boyfriend. He thought he was so smart but everyone knew he was
cheating on me,â she recalls. âJust the sound of her name would make my flesh crawl. I was not in a happy place.â Monica chose to tell her story because she realized its universal appeal. âPeople are cheatinâ on other people all over the world, all the time. Itâs nothing new but the hurt remains the same."
Out of a strange-to-understand respect for her ex, he remains anonymous. âHeâs nothing to do with me now, so I have no reason to be bitter. I donât particularly want to cause him any grief. He was simply the inspiration and reason for a song I wrote. As for her, I think sheâs struggling to make a living working on video sets. End of story.â
Monicaâs new album features her rapping with Twista (âHell Noâ), and
sampling Curtis Mayfield and working with Missy (âA Dozen Rosesâ).
âIt was a great experience and I really feel the album itself represents the real essence of me.â The album also sees her open up about witnessing her first love - Jarvis Weemsâ tragic death in 2000 on the touching ballad âGet Awayâ. âHim committing suicide changed my life,â she reflects sombrely. âIt brought me closer to God which was where I needed to be. For the first time I wished Iâd 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. Iâve learned from that experience that itâs important to show people you love them as much as possible while theyâre there. You canât predict what life will bring. There was no way for me to prepare for what happened.â
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. âHeâs just 21 months old and heâs 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 Iâm loving it.â
Rodneyâs godfather is Ludacris who just happens to be Monicaâs cousin.
âHeâs played a major part in motivating me. Heâs been there for my son
teaching him to swim or having cookouts - just doing family things weâve
always done. Heâs been great. And Iâm not ruling out a future collaboration with him. It is a possibility.â

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.
âYou grow and mature with those experiences and you get different
priorities in your life. Iâm 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, arenât really. For instance, some people Iâm close to
have children who suffer from autism. Iâm finding different ways to be
involved in such things. I know that everything that affects anyoneâs child,
directly affects them.â
As to her public image, she admits that often you have little or no control
over what the public gets fed by the media. âThe 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.â

One thing she does have control over is her own performing which she loves. âIâve always had a real buzz about performing live.You have an instant rapport with the audience which, hopefully, increases as the performance continues. Itâs a feeling like no other... that feeling of touchingâ your audience, making them laugh or cry.â
She has no plans to do live shows in the immediate future but admits the idea of an all-female tour would be appealing. âIf 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.â
And Monica is optimistic about the current music scene too. âI love the
scene now because it has so much variety. I think thereâs more
opportunity now for new talent to break through. Thereâs a lot of fresh
young talent just waiting for a chance. And itâs great to see Mary J. Blige doing so well. Sheâs my all time favourite artist, not because sheâs a friend, but because sheâs a strong woman and extraordinarily talented. Sheâs a great example for any aspiring performer."
Finally, Monica has some advice for those aspiring stars: âWell, I havenât
figured out the exact formula for success - Iâm 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.â

âThe Makings Of Meâ is out now through J Records.
Words Fiona McKinson

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