'Monica' Shows R&B Star Coming Of Age

R&B star Monica will release her self-titled third album Aug. 20 via J Records. The set is said to be a blend of contemporary R&B, pop, and hip-hop, and features the production skills of such

R&B star Monica will release her self-titled third album Aug. 20 via J Records. The set is said to be a blend of contemporary R&B, pop, and hip-hop, and features the production skills of such well-known talents as Rodney Jerkins, Jermaine Dupri, Dallas Austin, and Soulshock & Karlin.

"As we agonized over the right album title, I said why not just 'Monica'? I've never had a self-titled album and since I co-wrote the entire thing, what better timing for one?," she says in a statement. "Also, this is truly the first time in my career that the songs reflect both my direct and indirect personal experiences."

The album is led by the single "All Eyez on Me," which features a sample of Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." Monica describes the track, which debuts this week at No. 57 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart as "a party record. The world has had plenty of tragedy to deal with recently so I wanted to do something that had a 'feel good' flavor to it."

Although she's introducing fans to her latest via a lighthearted and upbeat number, the majority of the set "is quite serious," she notes. "I think more adults will be comfortable with my music. The truth is, I've grown up." Among the other cuts on the album is "U Should've Known" which she says is "about a relationship where everything is positive until something negative happens and the guy gets incarcerated. Yes, it is a situation I have experienced."

Another track based on real life is "I Wrote This Song," which Monica says is about her first love who committed suicide. "Some days, when I think about what happened, I cry. Writing the song was like a healing for me. I knew if I could write about that, I could write about anything."

Among the other songs on the album are "Hurts The Most," "U Deserve," "Girl, Please," "Ain't Gonna Cry No More," "Breaks My Heart," "Down 4 Whateva," and "Searchin.'" "It's like my 'coming of age' record," she says, "and with this album, I want to establish the kind of fans who will be with me for the next ten years and more."

"Monica" is the follow-up to the 1998 Arista set "The Boy Is Mine." That album debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 8 on The Billboard 200. It spawned several hits, including the No. 1 Hot 100 title track duet with Brandy, and has sold 1.97 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.