The state of r&b has become a hot topic in recent years as the genre has progressively been ignored by the mainstream. While some artists have evolved and followed the latests trends, some of our r&b greats have made an effort to keep r&b alive. Monica is one of those artists. With her latest album “Code Red”, she made it a point to stay true while also bringing attention to the need for support of the genre. The end result was one of her best albums. We sat down with Monica at the rehearsal of her recent Black Girls Rock performance and discussed her mission to create quality r&b, balancing family and her music career, and the new single “Alone in Your Heart”.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your new album “Code Red” came out in late 2015 and we named it one of the top r&b albums of the year. We’ve read that you wanted to bring real r&b back with the album. What made that a focus for you?
Monica: You know I grew up being a straight up soul singer starting with Gospel music. When I migrated to secular music, I still wanted it to have that feeling that you get. Of course, you’re not singing from a spiritual perspective, but it should feel good. I think that soul/r&b music is the only genre of music that really embodies that still. I didn’t want to isolate myself from that just because it’s not selling what it did in the 90’s and the era I first entered the business in. “Code Red” was just me saying to those real r&b lovers and fans that it is in a state of emergency. It is time that we push for a genre we love and support it and save it. We talk about how much we need it, and then it doesn’t get the support that it really truly deserves. People have been really supportive. They come out to the shows, we sold out a whole first half of the tour and we’re working on a second. That’s a blessing because if you look at charts, they can be very deceiving in the sense of what people really feel.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We noticed how much you stepped up the promotion of this album. You’ve been out there very visible on social media and of course with your tour. How much of an effort have you had to put in to make this a success?
Monica: You know what, I always do things when I feel it in my heart. That makes it organically real. I’m fortunate to have a husband and kids who really see my thrive and do what I love. For the tour I was able to take them with me and really get out there and give it 100%. So it was really a concerted effort but it wasn’t contrived. It wasn’t something that I had to take it until I make it. It was really what I wanted to do because I believed that much in the music.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about what it’s like having a family, a husband and kids, and still putting your all into your music career?
Monica: Balancing music and family really isn’t that hard for me because family always comes first. After God, there’s nothing more important to me than family. A lot of people make the mistake of sacrificing those they love for what they love. You really don’t have to do that. You can really use the love and energy from the people that are there for you to thrive and be your best and greatest. Many have made that mistake and you can’t get that time back with your children or your husband. For me, one never comes before the other. Having that order already there makes it easy.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve chosen “Alone in Your Heart” as the next single. What made that the song you wanted to go with next?
Monica: When I recorded “Alone in Your Heart”, it kinda felt like “Before you Walk Away” and “Angel of Mine”, those songs. It had this edge in the way that I’m presenting what I’m saying. The fact that it’s my husband’s favorite song also made it a household favorite and a family favorite. It was pretty dope whens the fans picked the same song. Pop and Oak are just phenomenal producers that just really believe in the music and they believe in it being crystal clear and well produced and put together. They are very conscientious of things that younger producers may not be. I appreciate that because that’s really how it was in the era that I came up in. I’m really delighted to go with this song. Hopefully with the spins at different stations and people requesting it and the performance on Black Girls Rock will give it the push it needs. We’ll shoot the video and do the things like back in the day we did anyway. As soon as we made a decision we did all of the promo. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with it because it’s definitely the kind of song that is very fitting for who I am as an artist and a person.
Brandy’s coming to tour England (UK), later this year – will Mo follow her lead?