Sunday, January 10, 2016

HEAR THIS: Monica goes 'Code Red'; Sings "I Miss Music" (and Don't We All?)

"It's like we're scared to take a chance / ... / You're trying so hard to cross-over / And just end up gettin' looked over / The label ain't reachin' they quotas / And we all know money's the motive / Don't let that... / Don't be that... / Don't sound like... / State of Emergency, hol' up"
Monica, "Code Red"

If you weren't aware that R&B legend Monica released an album this past Christmas, don't worry -- you're not alone.

Her much delayed album project, Code Red, was basically just thrown out there with as little support by RCA as seemingly possible.

That's a total bummer because:

A) Monica is superbly talented,
B) the R&B genre on the whole is annoyingly lacking, especially when it comes to the ladies being given a fair shot at mainstream success,
C) the album has a lot of great songs.

The record sees production by familiar Monica/late 90's-early 00's collaborators: Missy ElliotTimbalandDanja, and Polow da Don. Monica herself co-wrote every song on the album.

My only real complaint is for an album called Code Red, I expected more uptempo bangers than what was provided. That shouldn't even be a complaint really, considering Monica is a capable and talented vocalist, but still. Semantics, I guess.

I love the title track simply because -- not only does it feature the great Missy Elliot in a much more exciting way than her recent collab with Janet Jackson ("BURN IT UP!") -- its a not so subtle jab at the current music industry on the whole. I wish she showed that fiesty-ness throughout the entire album. It's words that a lot of artists need to hear.

My favorite cut (for right now) is the dripping-with-nostalgia ballad "I Miss Music", co-written with the criminally underrated Priscilla Renea (Fifth Harmony's "Worth It", Selena Gomez & The Scene's "Bang Bang Bang", Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood's "Somethin' Bad", Cheryl Cole's "Promise This", and Girls' Generation's "I'm A Diamond" -- she's been all over the place).

Want a complete list of artists Monica name-checks and references in this song? Why, sure -- I'll oblige:

  • Michael Jackson
  • Whitney Houston
  • Tina Turner
  • James Brown
  • The Fugees / Lauryn Hill
  • Kurt Cobain / Nirvana
  • Stevie Wonder
  • U2 ("One")
  • John Lennon ("Imagine")
  • Prince ("Purple Rain")
  • TLC
  • Aerosmith
  • Notorious B.I.G.
  • Sting
  • TuPac
  • Aaliyah
  • Jodeci
  • *NSYNC
  • Nas
  • Boyz II Men
  • Babyface
  • Bobby Brown
  • Faith Evans
Monica, you are literally singing about my life as a music listener when I was 8-14. It's like she knows me. I always knew the lady who brought us "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)" (can you believe that song was released twenty years ago?!?) was a kindred spirit.

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