With a career extending over 20 years, Monica Arnold – lovingly known in the R’n’B world as just Monica – has survived many a storm. With her 7th studio album ‘Code Red‘ scheduled for release later this year, it’s time to revisit a gem Ms Thang had unleashed back in 2003 – and give the Grammy-winning R’n’B/Soul icon a much deserved shout-out for staying true to herself and her music.
Easily one of R’n’B’s most illustrious players of the 90’s – Monica had it all by the end of the decade. Two consecutive triple platinum albums, three Billboard # 1 singles, a Grammy for her collaboration ‘The Boy Is Mine‘ with fellow R’n’B princess Brandy – Monica’s name became synonymous with vocalists credited for shaping the musical landscape of the 90’s. In the year 2000, the Soul songstress’s world collapsed around her – as she witnessed her boyfriend Javis Weem’s suicide right in front of her. Weem left behind a daughter from a previous relationship – and Monica took care of her, putting aside her flourishing musical career. Eventually Monica headed back to the studio, and poured her heart out into what would become her third studio album, aptly titled ‘After The Storm‘.
Released in 2003 after a gap of 5 years since its predecessor, the multi-platinum ‘The Boy Is Mine‘ – ‘After The Storm‘ displayed a stellar creative growth and maturity for the singer, then 22 years of age. Of course, her fans responded lovingly – ‘After The Storm‘, um, stormed in at # 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, becoming her first and only album to do so. The set’s first single, the Missy-Elliott-assisted ‘So Gone‘ went straight to # 1 (her 5th) on the Billboard R’n’B/Hip Hop Songs Chart, while becoming her 7th Hot 100 Top 10 hit.
It was the set’s second single ‘U Should’ve Known Better‘ though, that remains my favorite song from the album. A gorgeous Retro-Soul reverie produced by Jermaine Dupri, ‘U Should’ve Known Better‘ is a heart-wrenching ballad about misunderstandings in a relationship, as Monica promises to stay by her man through it all. Monica’s lush vocals have always worked amazingly well in the slow-jam territory – and the single is easily one of the highlights of her impressive discography. ‘U Should’ve Known Better‘ went on to become the second top 20 hit from ‘After The Storm‘ – peaking at # 19 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the album went on to sell over a million copies in the US, eventually being certified Platinum.
‘After The Storm‘ would be the last commercially successful album, along with its singles, that Monica would witness that decade. 2006’s follow-up ‘The Makings Of Me‘ arrived at # 8, but failed to garner any commercially successful single. It would be in 2010 that Monica would stage a comeback with the Gold-certified ‘Still Standing‘- which arrived at # 2 on the Billboard 200. The album’s lead single ‘Everything To Me‘ roared up to # 1 on the R’n’B Charts (her 6th), thus making her the first vocalist to top the Billboard R’n’B/Hip Hop Songs Chart in the 90’s, 00’s as well as the 2010’s. There’s little doubt about Miss Monica’s command over the game – her resilience easily makes her an icon of the genre.
Check out Monica’s ‘U Should’ve Known Better‘right here :