Since hitting the scene back in 1995, Monica has experienced her share of ups and downs. Her previous release, 2003's After the Storm, marked the singer's return to music after a five-year hiatus. It was a mostly mixed affair, although it did include some strong material written and produced by Missy Elliott. The Makings of Me, the singer's fourth album and a return to form of sorts, is Monica's best effort since her debut, Miss Thang.
The Makings of Me starts with the obligatory dance track, "Everytime the Beat Drops." It's decent, but it isn't really representative of where the album is going. Things settle into their groove with the second cut, the elegant Missy Elliott-produced "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)." Built around a Curtis Mayfield sample (which also inspired the album's title), the song characterizes the mature sound of the album. Just as on After the Storm, Missy Elliott's tracks (she worked on three of the ten songs here) dominate the vibe, only now they're supported by plenty of other quality material.
Monica is best when being sassy, talking shit and kicking out her man, and there is plenty of that here. "Sideline Ho," "Why Her?" and album highpoint "Hell No (Leave Home)" combine her bitchy attitude and ghetto persona with bass-heavy mid- to slow-tempo grooves to joyous effect. "Hell No" evens finds Monica trading verses with Twista, and she actually raps on a few cuts rather convincingly.
The Makings of Me moves along briskly, but there is enough variety to make it a satisfying listen. From the boasting lyrics of "Raw" to the soaring ballad "Getaway," this is a surprisingly quality release from an artist who many may have written off. With The Makings of Me, Monica has proven she is still relevant and still growing.
Label: http://http://www.jrecords.com/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/monicamusic
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