The Boy Is Mine (Arista Records)
By: Sylvia White
Monica, or as I call her, "BabyGirl Diva" has released her sophomore album entitled, "The Boy Is Mine". It has been while since we heard from this Atlanta vocalist. In 1995 she hit the scene with her debut release, "Miss Thang", which caused a stir and quite a few hits. This time around her flame is nonetheless dim. On "The Boy Is Mine" we hear and see a matured Monica. Her vocals have strengthened to powerhouse levels. With her talent to sing with the best of them, she has also taken her temperament to a new level. Gone is the "sass", now we get to see Monica with a keener sensibility of herself. Monica has grown before our eyes and is blossoming on all levels. On her title track with her counterpart Brandy she reveals a bit of that no- nonsense attitude that I once thought to be inappropriate but now have come to appreciate. The song itself has already spawned one of the biggest hits of 1998 not to mention rumors of rivaling catfights between the two divas in training. But those rumors aside, Monica is taking her career to better places. She is a young woman with talent, no doubt! On her thirteen track album, we hear all sides to her personality. From sass to flair to subtlety, Monica is doing her thang.
The album starts off with a chorus of great sweeping strings on the mid tempo, hip-gyrating, "Street Symphony". On the title track and first release, "The Boy Is Mine", Monica teams up with Brandy, in one of the biggest hits of her career thus far. The song, a playful though competitive track about whose man is whose, has Monica sparring with Brandy via back and forth lyrics. From most listeners Monica is the decided victor it seems. On one of my favorite tracks off the album, "Ring Da Bell", Monica puts to music, a real issue of a boyfriend who gets another girl pregnant. The total vibe and sultry vocal delivery makes this a deliciously hypnotic track. "The First Night", the album's second release, is an up-tempo song that glides from beginning to end.
"Misty Blue", the first remake off the album, we catch some of the gospel soul virtuoso that Monica is best at. Monica does such justice to this track formerly done by Dorothy Moore. Her developed vocal abilities shine through as she gets to the depth of hurt, the sort meant for anyone who takes on this blues ballad. Monica shines! This is one of the better remakes of the year. On "Angel Of Mine", the third and current release is a gem in itself. The folk acoustic blend of this track finds Monica's deep alto brimming. Another favorite! "Gone Be Fine" is one of the more hip hop oriented tracks off the album, with the help of the Atlanta group OutKast, Monica meshes her vocals with R&B and OutKast's unique rhyming style. This may serve as another hit for this teen diva. "Inside", a track written by the wonderful, Diane Warren, is a gorgeous ballad that reinforces even more how much of a talented team this writer and vocalist can become.
On the second remake of this album Monica takes on one of the more beautiful songs ever written by the likes of Richard Marx. "Right Here Waiting" finds a collaboration between Monica and the Bad Boy artists, 112 to be an effective pairing. She has done a very nice job of remaking this song, even though I felt that a remake of this track is unnecessary on anyone's part, nonetheless, it lacks nothing. "I Keep It To Myself" is another great ballad that moves at such an easy pace, it seems to flow effortlessly. I love this track. The final cut off the album, "For You I Will" is a willing borrow from the "Space Jam" soundtrack a couple of years back. It proved to be one of Monica's biggest hits of all time and became a wedding classic. Glad to see that she included this masterfully sweet ballad in this collection.
The album as a whole gets a robust 5 from me. I love this album for it's simplicity, it's style and evident maturity on the behalf of Monica. She shines and endures with this sophomore project. Her vocal abilities help to formulate her into the diva she is destined to become. The material is mature though not overdone. She shines throughout and I suggest to R&B fans to get your copies today if you already haven't. Monica's talent speaks for itself in volumes.
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