(Released December 18th, 2015)
After failing to gain the public’s attention and support with her last album New Life, Monica returned to the drawing board three years later to deliver Code Red. The project contains features from Timbaland, Akon and Missy Elliott and puts the singer back on the right track as she picks up the broken pieces left by the 2012 blur of an album.
Code Red opens up with the Atlanta native serving up some classic southern vibes with the title track that features a guest appearance by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, who is making a comeback of her on, and an adorable moment between Monica and her daughter. The opener is either a hit or miss. For some it might take a handful of listens before you find yourself nodding your head to the upbeat production; and for others no matter how many times you play it it still wouldn’t tickle your fancy, and that’s okay. Being a southern native myself it also took a while for me to warm up to it but once I did there was no turning back and was reminiscent of the music that used to be played on the radio.
This transitions into the lead single “Just Right For Me.” I really have nothing negative to say about this single but I do wish Lil Wayne was excluded or there was atleast a solo version out in the universe. Mega producer Timbaland has a spot on two tracks, “All Men Lie” and “Love Just Ain’t Enough,” and surprisingly they both are very good. Timothy starts each song with his singing which at first could be a turn off but quickly turns around, especially on “Love Just Ain’t Enough.” The duet between the two of them is actually one of my favorite songs on the album.
One thing that Monica has been known for in her career spanning more than two decades is her ballads and she proves she still has the chops this go around. “I Know,” “Deep,” and early fan favorite and also the next sing “Alone In Your Heart” all hold their own both production and content wise. Another surprisingly satisfying duet came with Murder Mo being assisted by Akon on “Hustler’s Ambition” with the two singing about being a ride or die over a guitar based production.
One more notable track that I’ll point out is “Suga.” It starts off by sampling the Teena Marie throwback “Behind The Groove” and proceeds to switch beats atleast two more times during the chorus, bridge and verses. One of the beat changes is more of a trap production that, along with the overall vibe of the song, is sure to have you grooving instantly. Definitely a standout song.
Overall Code Red was Monica’s way a showing R&B lovers that in spite of her last effort she’s still able to churn out quality music. Hopefully things will continue to go up from here, she definitely has my attention going forward!