Tuesday, November 07, 2006

CD Review: The Makings Of Me by Monica

Three years after the release of After The Storm, Monica returns with her fourth album, The Makings Of Me. She has delivered a solid release filled with several good songs. Only a couple of missteps keep the album from going to the next level.

The album opens with "Everytime Tha Beat Drop," which features Dem Franchize Boyz. It's by far the worst song on the album. Even though both Monica and Dem Franchize Boyz are both from the ATL, this collaboration doesn't work. It feels like a calculated attempt to capitalize on snap music that came a year too late. Even though Monica's still pretty young, she's been in the business for over 10 years. This song feels like a step backward. Fortunately, the rest of the album is better.

Monica again collaborates with Missy Elliott on The Makings Of Me, this time on three of the album's 10 tracks. The best song of the three is "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)." A sample from Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings Of You" drives the song as Monica puts a spin on R. Kelly's "You Remind Me Of Something." Unlike R. Kelly's song, Monica's comparisons of her man to her Gucci shoes because "every time you walk past, all the girls be lookin' at you" sounds sweet as opposed to objectifying. The only issue with this song (and the other two songs produced by Missy) is the fact that Missy can't stay quiet.

Other high-profile producers work with Monica on this album and for the most part, give her good stuff to work with. The Underdogs are behind the boards for "Sideline Ho," a blistering song where Monica takes the other woman in her man's life to task. This song is a bit rougher than what we're used to hearing from Monica but she somehow keeps herself from crossing the line between angry and over the top. Jermaine Dupri produces "Why Her?", a song where Monica asks her man that very question as he decides to choose another woman over her. Even though this song sounds uncomfortably close to the songs Jermaine Dupri produced for Mariah Carey, Monica's performance makes it stand out from the likes of "We Belong Together."

Overall, The Makings Of Me is a pretty good album. A couple of things keep it from becoming a great album. First, there are a couple of lackluster tracks. Apart from "Everytime Tha Beat Drop," the Swizz Beatz-produced "Raw" is also nothing to write home about. While the chorus is catchy, the rest of the song feels tired. Also,the album should have been a bit longer. It tops out at a little more than 38 minutes long. This album could've benefited from two or three more songs, provided that they weren't filler or unnecessary skits. Other than that, The Makings Of Me is a nice little album. It may not be her best work, but it's definitely worth picking up.

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