Top 5 Songs from Monica’s Debut Album ‘Miss Thang’

She was a true tomboy. Not the Aaliyah type of tomboy that had a cool vibe, or the Brandy type of tomboy that didn’t give the boys any play. She was the around-the-way girl who was your double dutch partner, or the girl you sung with in the church choir. She is Monica.

Hailing all the way from College Park, GA, Monica Arnold was discovered by the man responsible for building TLC’s signature sound, Dallas Austin. She signed to Austin’s label Rowdy Records at the tender age of twelve. Three months after her first single, “Don’t Take it Personal,” dropped in April of 1995, Monica released her debut album Miss Thang to multi-platinum selling success. Twenty-two years later, she has gone on to release seven more albums worldwide, but it’s her fearless debut album that set the standard for Monica’s lengthy career.

Here at Rated, we’ve put together a list of Monica’s best jams from her debut album in celebration of this amazing milestone. Check it out below:

“Before You Walk Out My Life”

“Here we are face to face/With the memories that can’t be erased/Although we need each other/Things that changed/It’s not the same,” sings a heartbroken Monica. Letting go a loved one is never easy, but she sings it passionately on the Dallas Austin-penned record. Serving as the second single for the album, this song gave Monica her second top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was also her second No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, which made her the youngest artist ever to have consecutive No. 1 records on this particular chart.

“Now I’m Gone”

Arguably the best album cut and sole non-single on this list, Monica is fed up and over the drama on this slow-burning kiss off to a lying lover. “You told so many lies/Thought you could run away from this thing called reality/But I’m long gone, I got to go on/There’s someone waiting for me/To love me honestly,” she sings. Monica’s signature mix of believability and vocal grit comes full force on this Tim & Bob record, even at the young age of 14.

“Don’t Take it Personal (Just One of Dem Days)”

“It’s just one of them days, when I wanna be all alone.” That’s the line that jump started Monica’s music career. Serving as the lead single, “Don’t Take it Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” was the perfect blend of lyrical content, vocal ability, and the stellar production of Dallas Austin to form one of the hottest singles of the summer in 1995. Whether you’re in the car or at your cousin’s cookout, you can’t help but bop your head and sing along to this party-friendly cut.

“Like This and Like That”

Monica gave her friend-with-benefits and ultimatum on this jumping’ jam. “I just can’t keep from going/I’m falling in love with you/I need to know if you want me for sure/We’ve messed around for too long/I need a commitment,” she sings. Co-written and co-produced by Dallas Austin and Colin Wolfe, “Like This and Like That” was chosen as the third single of the album, peaking at the No. 7 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was Monica’s third consecutive No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The track also features a stellar verse from fellow Rowdy Records signee Mr. Malik.

“Why I Love You So Much”

This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include this sweet love song. Penned by frequent Babyface collaborator Darryl Simmons, Monica tips off her hat to her new lover for protecting her, loving her, and even not pressuring her for sex. “You take me and you hold me/You rock me in your arms, baby/And I love you for that, baby/You don’t front in front of your friends/And you’re smart enough to be a real man,” she sings. Picked to be her fourth and final single, the song peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, which was her third top 10 from this album.

What’s your favorite track from Miss Thang? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Remembering Janet Jackson’s Album ‘janet’ 25 Years Later

Every legendary artist has a career-defining album; for Janet Jackson, janet is that album. Released on May 18, 1993, the album followed Rhythm Nation, a collection of songs that herald the pop icon joining the social and political conversation on the state of the world.

Although the socially conscious theme shined on Rhythm Nation, it wasn’t nearly as potent on janet. As her first album to be released on Virgin Records, the youngest Jackson sibling made some daring yet liberating choices for her new era. For starters, she dropped her surname for the album’s title to show her independence from the weight behind her family’s name. She updated her sound from industrial, and incorporated diverse genres including jazz, opera and hip-hop on many songs. She became more comfortable with her body, showing it off in the September 1993 issue of Rolling Stone. Lastly, janet highlighted her newfound confidence as a musician, taking charge of her lyrics and its accompanying production with the guidance of producing duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

Less about world news, and more messages about eroticism (but safe practices: “Be a Good Boy”) and femininity, janet. brewed a larger, yet taboo conversation that Jackson didn’t explore fully discuss until this album.

“Sex has been an important part of me for several years. But it just hasn’t blossomed publicly until now,” Jackson told Rolling Stone in 1993. “I’ve had to go through some changes and shed some old attitudes before feeling completely comfortable with my body. Listening to my new record, people intuitively understand the change in me.”

The changed resulted in her first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 350,000 copies sold in its first week. At the time, it was the highest debut sales for a woman since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991.

The album spawned six top 10 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100, including two No.1 singles: “Again” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” The latter track, the album’s lead single, earned Jackson a Grammy win for Best R&B Song.

On the 25th anniversary of janet, producer Jimmy Jam shares how he views this groundbreaking album today and how it compares to a milestone project by Marvin Gaye.

“I view [janet] as a really good album,” he exclusively tells Rated R&B. “I think the album is very reflective of where we all were in our lives at that time. We always said Rhythm Nation was our What’s Going On and janet was our Let’s Get It On album. [janet] was definitely the love album.”

Jam also shares his thoughts on Jackson being honored with her “long overdue” Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday.

“It’s obviously well-deserved and it’s probably a little overdue. But that’s okay,” he says. “She’s still alive to see it. And not only alive but she’s thriving. She’s about to go back on tour and show everybody’s how it’s been done. She’s had an amazing career thus far but I think she’s one of those people who’s done a lot but still has a lot more to say and do.”

Rated R&B revisited janet on its 25th anniversary and crafted a list of our top 5 songs.

1. “Any time, Any place”

Driven by a burning saxophone and deliberate finger snaps, the sensual song is fueled by lyrics of voyeurism, making it arguably the best record on this album.

2. “That’s the Way Love Goes”

Blended with hip-hop’s edge and Jackson’s flourishing sureness on intimacy and the powers of her own body, she takes us (and her love interest) to a places we’ve never been; and the trip isn’t bad either.

3. “Throb”

Bring your stamina. Over an oversexed-house beat, Jackson commands her mate to “boom, boom, boom until noon, noon, noon.”

4. “Funky Big Band”

Sampling “I’m in the Mood for Swing” by jazz giant Lionel Hampton, Jackson’s vocal improvisations are welcomed on this lively track.

5. “This Time”

“You’re dismissed,” says Janet after finally breaking it off with her ex. Now although she’s done with her lover’s drama, the song’s featured opera vocals from Kathleen Battle and accompanying production is packed with it.

Stream janet. below.

What’s your favorite track from janet? Tell us below.

15 Times Missy Elliott Brought ‘FIYAH’ To R&B Music

Let’s be clear, Missy Elliott is and will always be universally relevant in the world of music.

Misdemeanor Elliott has been an unstoppable force since establishing herself as a trailblazer for R&B and hip-hop music and its culture in the early 90s. Some people, such as myself, may say they first heard Elliott and her iconic “hee-hee-hee-hee-how” line on Gina Thompson’s hit “The Things I Do.” Others may remember Elliott’s artistic expression in a large black trash bag from her 1997 video “The Rain.”

What remains consistent with those possible introductions to Ms. Elliott is R&B has been the meeting place. For instance, the chorus on “The Rain” samples “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by ‘70s soul diva Ann Peebles. Missy Elliott not only lent her rap talents to the remix of Thompson’s lead single – she co-penned the track too, which is one of the reasons why we’re here.

For the past few months, Elliott has been on Twitter sharing memories of writing and producing R&B songs for past and present artists. Rated R&B has compiled a list of Elliott’s top 15 R&B hits that she either produced, wrote or was featured on, along with a reason why they are absolute FIYAH (as Elliott would say).

Aaliyah – “One in a Million”

Written by: Melissa “Missy” Elliott & Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley
Produced by: Timbaland

“One in a Million” is FIYAH because it helped shift the direction of R&B and way we heard it with its advanced melting pot of melody and rhythmic. From Kanye West and BJ the Chicago Kid to Jay Z and Tink, the cultural impact of this record is undeniable. The song spent six weeks at No.1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

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A Decade Later: 5 Love Lessons From Usher’s ‘Here I Stand’ Album

“A lot of what I plan to offer with this album is kinda standing in this spot. … The king’s back. I ain’t gonna say ‘back,’ I never left,” proclaimed Usher in an MTV interview in 2007. Six months after making this bold statement, the R&B crooner released Here I Stand, his first album since 2004’s multi-platinum Confessions.

A lot happened in Usher’s personal life since his Confessions era. From ending his relationship with singer Chili and parting ways with his mother as manager to losing his father and becoming a father and husband, Usher wanted his life experiences to reflect in the records on Here I Stand.

Although he recorded some of Here I Stand before the birth of his first son and his marriage to then-wife Tameka Foster, his new music direction was already in the works. “It was a deliberate choice to make music with substance, not just about the things that we’re accustomed to—music about being the celebrity, the player, or having the car, the girl and the bling,” he told ESSENCE in 2008.

Led by Polow da Don-produced single “Love in the Club” featuring Jeezy, Usher’s fifth LP was released on May 13, 2008. It spawned four other moderately successful singles (“Love in the Club Part. II,” “Moving Mountains,” “Trading Places” and title track) and eventually became certified platinum by the RIAA.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, here are five love lessons from Here I Stand.

“Trading Places”

Lesson 1: Roleplay is healthy.

Sometimes we get comfortable sticking to societal norms (i.e. a man pays for movie and dinner, women cooks and clean). But who said we have to follow those exhausting rules? Whatever keeps your relationship thriving, do it.

“His Mistakes”

Lesson 2: The past is the past for a reason.

Give your ex’s successor a chance to make their spot in your heart their own. While your former love may have treated you wrong, that baggage shouldn’t be carried into your next relationship. Share those hurtful moments to your next mate the beginning, and just give them an opportunity to prove himself until they show you otherwise.

“Love You Gently”

Lesson 3: Slow down baby, the loving ain’t going nowhere.

There’s nothing wrong with a quicky every now and then but it can’t be the norm in the bedroom. You can’t just get yours and forget about them. Your significant other deserves a pleasurable loving making experience, too.

“Moving Mountains”

Lesson 4: If you’re not happy, just leave.

Unless your lover practices sorcery, they probably can’t read your mind. Walking around with an attitude and being distance won’t rebuild a broken relationship. If they can’t get through to you, how can a bond be mended? Here’s some advice: talk up. You can either love them or leave them alone. It’s that simple.

“Something Special”

Lesson 5: Show love any time, any place.

If you love your mate, then let them (and the world) know it’s real. Not to say you put your relationship on display all the time. But there’s nothing wrong with cute little reminders, especially if it’s a solid connection.

Revisit Here I Stand in its entirety below.

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