The Makings of Me
|The Makings of Me|
|Studio album by Monica|
October 3, 2006
|Singles from The Makings of Me|
The Makings of Me is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Monica, released by J Records on October 3, 2006. Built upon the hip-hop, gospel and quiet storm styles of its predecessor, After the Storm (2003), Monica wanted her follow-up project to sound "very close knit and intimate". Consequently, she enlisted producers including her longtime collaborators Jermaine Dupri, Bryan Michael Cox, and Missy Elliott and new partners including The Underdogs, Tank, LRoc, Swizz Beatz, and Sean Garrett.
The album garnered a mostly positive reception from music critics, and produced four singles of which all failed to chart or sell noticeably. It reached the top of U.S. Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and number eight on the Billboard 200, selling 328,000 copies in total domestically to date. In April 2007, a Deluxe Digital version of the album featuring free ringtones for "The First Night," a free cellphone wallpaper, and a blow-in card was sold by Walmart.
Although most of The Makings of Me was not recorded before Monica had given birth to her first child in May 2005, the singer had started work on her then-untitled fourth album with various producers and songwriters during her pregnancy, including Missy Elliott, Bryan Michael Cox, and executive producer Jermaine Dupri. While both Elliott and Dupri contributed most to the album, the singer was anxious to keep the number of collaborators "very close knit and intimate" and thus, settled on working with producers Sean Garrett, Harold Lilly, Swizz Beatz, Tank and The Underdogs, particularly, resulting in a total of forty finished records. In addition, however, Monica also recorded with Dre & Vidal, Tricky Stewart, Scott Storch, Jazze Pha, No I.D., and rappers Mannie Fresh, Akon and Young Jeezy, but none of the songs written with them eventually made the final track listing. Some of them, however, appeared on her 2007 mixtape Greg Street Present......Monica Made: The Mixtape.
Although the album was tentatively titled Street Butterfly, Raw, or A Dozen Roses at one time or another, the long-player was eventually named after Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings of You", which is sampled in the album's second single "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)": "This album is really the makings of me because it talks about so many different scenarios, both good and bad, that have pretty much brought me to the point where I'm at mentally," Monica told in a 2006 interview with Billboard, comparing it with a "musical diary where people can really see me in a lot of different lights for once."
Although Monica received neither a producing nor a songwriting credit on The Makings of Me, the album was widely addressed as her most personal effort yet. The singer attributed the personal sound of the album to the words of her self-written poetries, she has started writing in the late 1990s and of which about half of the songs on the album are based on. Having used the writings before to inspire the themes of the tracks for previous albums All Eyez on Me (2002) and After the Storm (2003), it was actually the first time she handed the poems over to her songwriters. "That was kind of private [to hand over]," Monica said in an interview with Deseret News. "It was going into the hands of about seven or eight people. It was difficult to do something like that the first time around." Feeling obligated to unveil her true thoughts about past relationships, writers Tank, Manuel Seal and others crafted songs such as "Sideline Ho" and "Why Her," which were inspired by the poems or their backstories.
The album contains several references to Atlanta, Georgia and alludes to contemporary fashion labels such as Gucci, and automobile manufacturers Bentley and Mercedes Benz. In "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)," singers R. Kelly and Gladys Knight are mentioned. Although Monica intended for the album to include some light recordings, she stated that The Makings of Me "is not an album for kids." "This album is very, very different from the other ones, because of me personally. Now, at 26, the way I look at things, even relationships, I was really able to involve more of my life experiences in the album," Monica said to MTV News, adding: "I had to tell my story [...] There are too many people who have been in the same situation as me and really don't know their way out. Hopefully through my words, what I say can open a door."
"Everytime tha Beat Drop", one of the last songs recorded for The Makings of Me, was chosen as the lead single to show "something that appears on the outside to be different from" Monica and, in addition, represents her hometown Atlanta. Greatly influenced by snap music, the track incorporates beats of Nelly's 2005 single "Grillz" and a sample of the 2006 single "Lean wit It, Rock wit It," as performed by Dem Franchize Boyz. The song received lukewarm reviews, noted as "a decent but ultimately forgettable [...] obligatory club track," and was a mediocre success, reaching the top twenty on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart only. The second single, Elliott-penned "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)", underperformed. The song, a modern rework of Curtis Mayfield's 1972 single "The Makings of You", was the last music video-accompanied release from the album.
Monica's second single which contains an "oversung downer."
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"Sideline Ho", the third track, was written and produced by fellow R&B musician Tank. Based upon a self-written poem by Monica, the lyrics of the song were inspired by an ex who cheated on her with a video model. It was released as the album's third single, and although the song saw a comparatively successful debut on the charts, J Records refused to agree on producing a music video for the song, with ideas for a video treatment being eventually scrapped. The fourth track, Jermaine Dupri-produced "Why Her," serves as a direct follow-up to "Sideline Ho" and was also inspired by a poem. "After all the anger and the smoke cleared, the next one that I wrote was Why Her. And I thought it was really clever [...] to create songs off of my poems like that," Monica said. The song received a generally positive reception from music critics, and was compared to Mariah Carey's 2005 recording "We Belong Together." "Hell No (Leave Home)", the fifth track, has Monica trading verses with fast-paced rapper Twista. The singer commented the recording of the rhymes as comical: "He [Twista] had so much patience with me and allowed me to learn his way of rapping. Of course, rapping isn't what I do, but I did enjoy the experience. The way I learned best was with him in the booth." Released as the final single from the album, it was released to no commercial success.
"Doin' Me Right", built around a sample of The Whispers' 1976 "Chocolate Girl", was noted as one of the "few songs about good men" on The Makings of Me, alongside Underdogs-crafted "My Everything". Considered as this album's "Knock Knock" (the second single from 2003's After the Storm), it was praised by critics who called the track "another sweet twist on a soft-soul classic." The seventh track, "Raw," features production and guest vocals by Swizz Beatz and was noted the only upbeat track on the album next to "Everytime tha Beat Drop." It chronicles the protagonist's lament on so-called "playas" over a speaker-jarring 808 beat, and received mixed reviews. "Gotta Move On," the ninth track, incorporates minor elements of oriental music. Featuring backing vocals by singer Tweet, it was declared "a kiss-off dipped in honey" by Allmusic. The closing track, "Getaway", is an all-piano song, except for a few accents from a snare drum briefly throughout the tune. It discusses the witnessing of Monica's former boyfriend Jarvis Weems' death in 2000.
Releases and promotion
The first singles "Everytime Tha Beat Drop" were initially targeted to radio July 24, 2006 (see 2006 in music) in the United States. A week later, footage was released by Access Atlanta, featuring photos on the making of the music videos to "Everytime Tha Beat Drop".
Prior to its release, she appeared on BET's 106 & Park in September 2006 to promote the album, and on BET's Blueprint on October 5, 2006. On October 9, she also performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in promotion of the album. She also performed on the The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
|New York Post|||
The Makings of Me received generally positive reviews from most professional music critics. Andy Kellman of Allmusic gave the album four stars out of five and called it a "concise and mostly sweet (if occasionally unremarkable) set of songs," especially praising Elliott's input on the album. Ryan Dombal of Entertainment Weekly declared it "a solid addition" to Monica's discography, and although he saw her faltering on ballads such as "My Everything", he added: "the singer hints at mature contentment on her fourth CD — while retaining some angry edge, [...] scoring tough-talking venom." USA Today writer Steve Jones, on the other hand, wrote: "Sweet ballads like 'My Everything' and the Curtis Mayfield-laced 'A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)' find her nicely contented having found the one. But do her wrong or play her soft and she'll unleash a torrent of scorn [...] In the mid-90s, she was the sassy 14-year-old Miss Thang. Now she's full grown and not to be fooled with. Still, she can get the dancefloor popping."
People magazine gave the album three stars out of four. It found that "her fourth disc, demonstrates why the singer has been able to outlast many an R&B ingenue." In a mixed review, Clover Hope of Billboard magazine wrote that "while The Makings of Me has its needless trendchasing moments, her rich voice and prime subject are the main draw". He criticized the album for its "avoidable" lead single "Everytime tha Beat Drop", writing that "Monica is good enough without the fluff." In his review for About.com, Mark Edward Nero noted The Makings of Me "a very personal album that listening to it is almost like reading a diary," and while he applauded the songwriting and song production as "excellent," he cited a "lack of emotion" in Monica's voice: "She cuts loose, but for the most part, Monica seems more concerned with pitch-perfect singing than singing with genuine emotion. In addition, he also criticised the shortness of the album. USA Today gave the album three stars out of four and called Monica "full grown and not to be fooled with", while Ebony hailed the album as "full of variety, depth, and maturity."
One week after its release, The Makings of Me debuted at number-one on the U.S. Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and at number eight on the official Billboard 200, with moderately successful first week sales of 92,935 copies — about half as much as her previous effort, number-one album After the Storm (2003). While it became Monica's first album to reach the top of the R&B Albums Chart, it also scored her her lowest peak position on the Billboard 200 since 1998's The Boy Is Mine which had also reached number eight. the album has sold over 328,000 copies domestically, making it Monica's first album to not receive a certification by the Recording Industry Association of America to date. Outside the States, it opened at number twenty-three on the R&B Top 50 Albums Chart in Canada and at number seventy-five on the Japanese Album Chart.
Altogether The Makings of Me spawned four singles: The lead album's first single, Dupri-produced "Everytime tha Beat Drop" barely made it to top fifty on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart with a peak position of number forty-eight only, becoming Monica's least successful lead single since 2002's "All Eyez on Me." It, however, reached number eleven on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and number seven on the World R&B Top 30 Singles chart. The second and third singles from the album, "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)" and "Sideline Ho," underquoted this success with peak positions of number forty-eight and forty-five respectively on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, never making it to the official Billboard Hot 100. A fourth single, "Hell No (Leave Home)" was serviced to U.S. radios on May 14, 2007, achieving similar success.
|The Making of Me – Standard edition|
|1.||"Everytime tha Beat Drop" (featuring Dem Franchize Boyz)||3:43|
|2.||"A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)"||3:51|
|5.||"Hell No (Leave Home)" (featuring Twista)||
|6.||"Doin' Me Right"||3:19|
|7.||"Raw" (featuring Swizz Beatz)||
|9.||"Gotta Move On"||
|US Best Buy bonus track|
|11.||"Thanks for the Misery"||
|Japanese bonus tracks|
|11.||"Thanks for the Misery"||
|12.||"Everytime tha Beat Drop" (Multimedia track)|
- ^[A] denotes co-producer
- Sample credits
- "Everytime tha Beat Drop" contains a samples of Dem Franchize Boyz' 2006 "Lean wit It, Rock wit It".
- "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)" contains a samples of Curtis Mayfield's 1972 "The Makings of Me".
- "Doin' Me Right" contains a samples of The Whispers' 1976 "Chocolate Girl".
Credits are taken from The Makings of Me liner notes.
Visuals and imagery
Technical and production
|United States||October 3, 2006||J Records|
|Canada||October 10, 2006|
|United Kingdom||December 9, 2006|
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- "Oricon: Monica" (in Japanese). Media Control GfK International. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
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