I was really excited to get a chance to speak with her about her upcoming album, The Makings of Me. And I was also excited to get to know more about her on a personal level. We talked over the phone for about 20 minutes and let’s just say, she is a real real cool person; very down to earth. I’ve been a Monica fan since I was in the 5th grade, so this was really a big thing for me.
The interview is typed up for those of you who like to read, but the audio link to it is provided as well.
Make sure to leave your comments, and don’t clown me for stuttering! I was nervous.
Special shout out to Victoria from WIREDSET DIGITAL AGENCY, for hooking this up! I appreciate it.
ANGEL.LA: So you check out Concreteloop and all those other gossip blogs?
MONICA: I’m definitely locked into internet stuff like that, because I like to know what people think about, you know, what the music sounds like and stuff like that, so I have heard of it.
ANGEL.LA: Yeah, for the most part people are feeling the new sound on Concreteloop..
MONICA: Thank you, I’m glad. I really always wonder, yanno, when you release a single like Beat Drop, it’s one of those songs that has a feel that’s from one city. It’s very much representation of Atlanta and what Atlanta music is like. So I always like to hear what people’s perception of it is.
ANGEL.LA: Yeah, I was gonna ask you about this, but you brought it up early. I know you heard about Miss Jones criticizing you on the radio show..
MONICA: I addressed Miss Jones, and actually let me just clarify something right quick. My problem was not with Miss Jones’ perception of the song. People are entitled to their opinions, but me, I live by a certain code. The first rule of this code is respect. When I meet somebody and I greet someone and I speak to them, I don’t care if it’s for five minutes or for five days straight. I have a certain amount of respect, so there are certain things that I don’t do. My problem with her was, her talking about my weight and different stuff like that. You know, she said I was skinny. But I have almost 12 years of records that you can go back and look at and I’ve always been this way. So what was the new found issue about? If anything, she is another female, she should be giving me a high-five for just having a baby and still being skinny.
ANGEL.LA: Yeah, that’s what I was about to say. But the one thing that was funny about when I posted it on the site, was that a lot of people were saying she was just mad because her music career didn’t pop off and you been in the game longer than she has, so that’s why she is always hating on all these R&B girls that are out right now..
MONICA: Well I saw on your site, that only like one person sided with her. People really had my back. I really appreciate the fact that they recognize the realness in me, see, I don’t speak behind people’s backs. So maybe her mouth is like a little bit much right now or maybe she does that for the ratings of her show. Either way it goes, my son’s father made a very good point the other day. This is a small thing to a giant, anytime you’re doing something good the enemy always comes. I didn’t think she was on that team, but maybe she is, so I’m through with it. I just wanted to clarify that my issue was not about the song, because I know that there are people that would prefer to hear me sing. This is not a record that you just sing and belt out notes, but luckily for those people, I have a second single, Dozen Roses that Missy [Elliot] produced, probably coming out in about two weeks..
ANGEL.LA: Yeah, I heard that track and it samples the Curtis Mayfield song, right?
MONICA: Exactly, that’s actually how I ended naming my album The Makings of Me..
ANGEL.LA: Speaking of the new album, from the samples I’ve heard, my favorite track so far is Why Her. Do you have any favorite tracks?
MONICA: Yeah, I think my actual favorite is Sideline Ho and Why Her was actually the follow up to Sideline Ho because when this situation took place (which was many years ago). Someone cheated on me in the most malicious way you could ever imagine, but I wrote the poem Sideline Ho. And after all the anger and the smoke cleared, the next one that I wrote was Why Her. And I thought it was really clever for Jermaine [Dupri], Tank, and a lot of the writers that I connected with, to create songs off of my poems like that.
ANGEL.LA: Yeah that was clever because every track I heard so far I’m feeling it. I can’t wait for the new album..
MONICA: Thank you..
ANGEL.LA: In some of your songs like So Gone and the more recent Dozen Roses (which we just talked about), you start to rhyme at the end of it. Do you write your own flows?
MONICA: Naw, baby I’m not a real rapper [laughs]. That’s just something that Missy & I tried because she always said that I act like a rapper. I don’t know what that means, I tell people all the time that I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But it did allow us to try something different that we ended up really really liking. I mean, I tried it for the first time on So Gone and now you hear a lot of girls, even a lot of guys doing it that wouldn’t have done it normally. And that to me is like the ultimate compliment, because we come back and do something the same way and it reminds people that we tried it first.
ANGEL.LA: So who are some of your favorite rappers that are out right now?
MONICA: Some of my favorite rappers [pause] you know I’m a southern chick so I’m probably listening to stuff you never even heard of.
ANGEL.LA: Oh that underground stuff..?
MONICA: Yeah. I’m listening to Lil Yola, I like his record. I like Gucci Mane record, actually Gucci Mane was one of the first people to ever shout me out on a record and kinda show me some love. Well actually 50 [CENT] was the first to do it and you know that song was crazy.
ANGEL.LA: Un Huh [laughs]
MONICA: That’s like the ultimate compliment because I’m kinda in the underdog seat which I kind of like. I kinda like that because I think people look at me more like a human being and not just like an artist or an image that you see. So for them to even mention me, it made me tune into them on a different level. So those are some of the people that I listen to as well.
ANGEL.LA: See that’s probably why Missy said you remind her of a rapper because you come real with it and I think a lot of your fans (including myself) respect that.
MONICA: I hope so, I mean I always try to do everything from a real sincere point of view. Anything that I sing about, anything that I talk about is coming directly from me. Not the label, not somebody that works for me. And that’s makes me love my music back, you know?
ANGEL.LA: That’s true. So, I know you said Jermaine Dupri and Missy Elliot worked on the album, so who else did you work with?
MONICA: I worked with the Underdogs, Tank did some writing with me, I worked with Vidal & Dre.
ANGEL.LA: Oh Ok.
MONICA: It was real intimate because I was actually pregnant at the time and I didn’t really work with a really wide variety of producers. I kept it very close knit and intimate because of that.
ANGEL.LA: And since your brought up your pregnancy, I was gonna ask you..how is motherhood so far?
MONICA: I love it, it’s crazy because he is 15 months old and he is walking and talking. He really just gives me a reason to just wake up in the morning. You can’t live for something like music or other people, you really can’t do that. But when it comes to him, he is my number one priority. And he usually travels with me; this is the first trip he hasn’t taken. I just try to make sure that he knows that he is first priority and if there is ever a moment when I have to choose, I will choose him first. And that’s over music and anything else. I’m real lucky too that he is not some crank box and he didn’t make anything hard. He has been sleeping all night since he was 4 months old, he is a real god sent.
ANGEL.LA: Oh, so you got a good baby? [laughs]
MONICA: Yeah I got a real good baby.
ANGEL.LA: Does he listen to any of your music, or is he responding to music?
MONICA: He is stuck on Chris Brown, Charmillionaire, and Gucci Mane.
ANGEL.LA: So he might be a little singer when he gets older than?
MONICA: I don’t know, he seems like he is drawn to instruments and stuff like that. I mean, he beats his drums every day. Whatever he decides he wants to do, I will definitely support him. And that’s music included, but I won’t force this as the first profession at all.
ANGEL.LA: Oh ok, I definitely understand that. So Imma get into some of these questions I have written down here. And the first one is, What do you think are the biggest misconceptions people still have about you?
MONICA: I believe that there are no more misconceptions. And the reason I say that is because, when I first came out I was 13 years old. People have had a chance to see me and really get to know me. After After The Storm, and me just getting out and talking about the things that have happened to me. I think that’s the good thing about my relationship between me and my fans, I don’t think they have any misconceptions anymore.
ANGEL.LA: So after long days in the studio, promotions, or doing interviews like this one, what do you do to relax?
MONICA: I always eat good, I’m from the south but, I might just enjoy a movie or something with my baby daddy. [laughs] Something normal, something everybody else would do.
ANGEL.LA: What’s the last movie you saw?
MONICA: Idlewild, I saw it Friday [08/25/06] the day it came out.
ANGEL.LA: Yeah that was good movie right there.
ANGEL.LA: A lot of people was giving it bad reviews, but I don’t understand it.
M: I don’t understand it either.
A: What’s on heavy rotation in your car right now? I know you said you like Gucci Mane..
M: Yeah, it’s weird because my mama always says, “How you flip from that to the lord?” I go from listening to that type of music, to listening to; I’ve been real heavily listening to Kirk Franklin’s new CD, Hero.
A. Yeah. I haven’t really listened to his new CD, maybe I should pick that up..
M: Yeah. Imagine me, if you listen to that song you would want to hear it at least once of twice a week. It’s a great motivational record and it pertains to anybody, no matter what you do or where you from. I listen to the entire album.
A: Ok. So I really don’t have that much questions because I was like I’m talking to Monica… [laughs]
A: But I did want to bring this up. A long time ago I use to live in Hawaii, and your cousin worked for my dad. I don’t know his name because I couldn’t get in contact with my dad, but he was in the Marines. And I talked to you on the phone in 2000 or 2001, I know you don’t remember that [laughs]. But, I just wanted to see if you remember if you had a cousin that worked in Hawaii or not..
M: Well I had a cousin that was in the services in Hawaii and I don’t know if he worked somewhere else too. Was his name Bruce?
A: I’m not sure, I was gonna call my dad up but I couldn’t get in contact with him in enough time to get the name..
M: If it wasn’t Bruce, then they probably weren’t really my cousin then. [laughs] Because we don’t travel that far to Hawaii, my family is from a real country part of Atlanta called Newnan. And half of my aunts and uncles have never even been on an airplane. So I’m not sure.
A: Oh Ok, Imma have to hit up my dad after this interview [laughs]
Just for those who are curious, Yep his name was Bruce. My Dad confirmed it….
A: So Imma do a couple name drops and I want you to say the first thing that comes to your mind.
A: Okay. Atlanta.
M: My home
A: The Makings of Me
M: My Life
A: Rodney [her son's name]
M: My everything
M: Stay away from Rodney, Big Rodney [her fiancé]
A: Whitney Houston
M: My friend
M: The best market place for us to have some good black music. [laughs]
A: Snakes On A Plane
A: Reality TV
M: Love it
A: Jermaine Dupri
M: [pause] The brother I never had, an older brother. All my brothers are younger than me, so that’s my big brother.
A: So my next question is, You already mentioned that you check out the gossip blogs on the web, are there any sites that you visit frequently?
M: No, I just go to whatever people tell me, “oh they were talking about you on so and so.” and just visit them.
M: I don’t have any that I just tune into on a regular basis. Now, I do love Sandra Rose’s website. You know I brought her out to my son’s father birthday party in December and she and I kind of connected. In a sense that she doesn’t enjoy negativity, she believes in telling the story like it is, if there is one and showing pictures that people really want to see. And she is crazy about my son, so I do visit Sandra Rose a lot because most of the things that take place, a lot of the entertainers are really comfortable with her taking their pictures and being at personal events. I mean there is nothing more personal than me giving my fiancé a party.
A: That’s true..
M: So, if you can get comfortable with somebody like that, that’s a big step. And his whole party is still posted on her site, but in a very respectful manner, because she made me aware of everything she was doing before she did it. So that’s about the only site that I visit on a regular.
A: Yeah, I get a lot of pictures from her. Because I e-mailed her a couple months back to ask her if I could use some of her pictures on my website, because she does have a lot of exclusive pictures.
M: And that’s because she doesn’t have any ill intent with she takes them. And we’re aware of that as artists, you know what I mean?
A: Un Huh
A: So I read somewhere that you and Ludacris were cousins, is that true?
M: Yes, we’re cousins by marriage. My mom is married to his uncle.
A: Oh ok.
M: We grew up at each others houses. His dad, Wayne is a real partier. I mean, Chris [Ludacris] really makes the kind of music that his dad might be having a party to, right now. [laughs] Like my uncle Wayne is serious about having a good time, so we always grew up extremely close to each other. And next to my son’s father, he was the very next person that I told I was pregnant. And right then, he stepped up and took a role that basically made him end up being his godfather. And he has just been amazing with him, I mean teaching him to swim and staying in tune with him and what’s important to him. And I know how much responsibility he’s really had. That’s what really pushed me to go ahead to come to the MTV Awards [VMA's] because he will be performing his song, Money Maker, for the first time.
A: Yeah I heard about that..
A: So, um, beyond music, What else is coming up for you? Are you gonna try acting again?
M: No, I’ll probably do that like next year. Maybe after my son turns two. I’m doing everything, basically around what his needs are. You know what I mean?
A: Uh huh..
M: I don’t want him to ever feel that he came second to my job.
A: Yeah, that’s true, because you know you hear a lot of horror stories about some of these celebrity kids.
M: Oh yeah. I mean, I’m definitely not gonna do that to him. Because I found a great balance, between promoting the album and having him with me. So I don’t want to add anything else to that.
A: See, I noticed recently, well since you released So Gone, you stopped wearing the armband to cover the tattoo. Is that because you felt that you’re old enough, or your fans are old enough to realize that you already have a tattoo and they don’t have to copy everything you do?
M: Well I decided that the best thing for me to do is just to make is clear that I’m an adult and I made an adult decision. This is something that is on my body for the rest of my life and never one second was I ever ashamed of it. But I didn’t want people to go and do things that maybe I have done with the thoughts that, I wanna do what Monica did. I mean, I love it, it worked for me. I got diamonds in my teeth, and do all kinda stuff that I like for me. That may no be for everybody else.
A: That’s true.
A: So I was reading that you graduated high school with a 4.0…
M: Yeah, My mom was very serious. She went above and beyond, she kept us in private school up into the 7th grade. I mean, she really was determined. Our summers, we didn’t sit around and get lazy. She did everything, she was involved every night in our school work and I knew that meant a lot to her. And I made a promise to her, that I wouldn’t stray away from school and not have anything to fall back on; just for music. And that was something I really really wanted to do. I was motivated to do my best, and I didn’t find out that I actually had a 4.0, but I should have known because when I got report cards like everybody else. And I always had A’s. You know they calculate the numbers at the end of the year. So to find that out, I was really really excited about that. Because that’s always something, if I want to go to college, I’ll always have that line there, so I can do that.
A: That’s true.
A: So I know my time is almost up, and I don’t want to hold you up any longer. But, did you want to clear anything else up or say anything to some of the fans?
M: I just want to tell people thank you for always motivating me to come back. You know I’ve been through a lot, whether it was death in my family, lost loves in my life. Whatever it was, it has not been easy for me. But it is made easier for the people that are genuinely are there for me. You know the fans that I meet that ask me if they can give me a hug, they don’t want to talk about gossip and stuff like that. They really appreciate me being honest about my life story. And I just want to say thank you to them. And thank you to the people that don’t like me, because that’s motivation in a different way. So, I just want to say thank you.
A: Well, I want to thank you for taking the time out to talk to me, because I really appreciate it. I’m a real big fan and I really appreciate it.
M: Alright, well ask your daddy was his name Bruce.
A: Yeah, Imma ask him that because I couldn’t get in contact with him. So I gotta ask him.
M: Ok, ok.
A: Alright then, thank you.
MONICA & HER REP: Thanx Angel..
So that was the interview. As you can tell, Monica was real down to earth and hella cool. So, make sure you go out and support her upcoming album, The Makings of Me, hitting stores October 3rd!! We’ll keep you posted..
Monica – Dozen Roses (full) // DOWNLOAD
Monica – Sideline Ho (full) // DOWNLOAD
Monica – Why Her (full) // DOWNLOAD