Monica: The Makings of Me 

There's an endless supply of rhythm and blues sirens out right now, so it is remarkable when one of them rises above the ranks to make a decent, heartfelt album. That is what Monica Denise Arnold, a.k.a. Monica, accomplished with her latest LP, Makings of Me. Monica covers all areas of her vibrant (sometimes sordid) life on this album. From her former fiancé's suicide, to the relationship she is currently forging, she sings about it all in a candid manner

Standout tracks here include the raucous party jam "Raw," where she teams with super producer Swizz Beatz to lament so-called "playas" over a speaker-jarring 808 beat. The single "Dozen Roses," currently on radio and television nationwide, pairs Monica with artist-cum-producer, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott. The song uses an interpretation of the Curtis Mayfield son,g "The Makings of You," and is sentimental without being pretentious. The last track, "Getaway," is all all-piano, except for a few accents from a snare drum briefly throughout the tune. Overall, the CD does not fail to please.

The only problem is that at 10 tracks, The Makings of Me is kind of short. If you're lucky, you may be able to get the Japanese import or the Best Buy Exclusive. Both feature the bonus track "Thanks for the Misery."

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