The Boy Is Whose?

Like "Misty Blue," the bulk of the album is produced by Dallas Austin, who Monica designates her play "father." Austin builds a song by adding sudden hornblasts, scratches, and other bursts of sound to a simple rhythm track. From Deborah Cox's "Sentimental" to Aretha Franklin's "I'll Dip," he's called attention to himself by calling attention to the artist, making every vocal seem subtle, reflective, and inspired. Austin and Monica have already created two masterworks: her debut single "Don't Take It Personal" and (lost on Austin's flop Fled soundtrack) "Missing You." Here they rack up two more with the scratchy-funk "Ring Da Bell" and the plaintive "Take Him Back," though if Austin is really Monica's daddy he should respect her concepts at the bank the way he does in interviews by cutting her a slice of that lucrative publishing cheese. Some credit should also go to co­executive producer Clive Davis, who does know how to mastermind a hit album. Front-loaded with "The Boy Is Mine," "The First Night," and the aforementioned Space Jam jam, the album has legs as fine as the ones Monica shows off in that slit-to-the-crotch black skirt she wears in the "Boy" video.

Details

Brandy
Never Say Never
Atlantic

Monica
The Boy Is Mine
Arista

There's still a part of me that's gotta love Brandy--the Brandy who appeared on a recent TV Guide cover, sans makeup, braids pulled back, smiling shyly for fear of acting "too fast" or "too grown." But the ass-splittin' truth is that Brandy's a star because she was made one, while Monica would be a star wherever she was. If she was a grocery check-out girl, you'd stand in her line. Ultimately, Brandy vs. Monica breaks down to our times-defining r&b vs. hip hop debate. Brandy is straight-up r&b teen dream--too peaches-and-cream to be Next's butta love, but just right for Usher's nice-and-slow. Monica, on the other hand, is hip hop all the way. Where Brandy thinks she's being cool with her "slow down Mase you're killing 'em," Monica riffs off on Charge It 2 Da Game, the latest from her No Limit soldier-in-law Silkk the Shocker. She's the independent yet "down for her nigga" girl that hip hop has taught us to love. If I was 17, I'd want her as the Mary to my Meth. This boy is hers.

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