NEW YORK — Monica named her last album After the Storm, but it seems that the clouds have just recently parted for the singer.
Recent years have seen the suicide of an ex-boyfriend, an emotional breakup, pregnancy rumors and a brief courtship with G-Unit member Young Buck. Now back with her fourth release — The Makings of Me, due October 3 — she's expressing her newfound focus and maturity.
"This album is very, very different from the other ones, because of me personally," Monica said last week during a break from the chaos of the Video Music Awards. "The first album, I was 13 years old.
Now, at 26, the way I look at things, even relationships, I was really able to involve more of my life experiences in the album.
"And that made for some crazy songs," she added, laughing.
Without question, one of those is the Underdogs-produced "Sideline Ho," which Monica wrote with collaborator Tank. The scathing track finds the singer taking her man and his mistress to task for many things, including the other woman's relaxed attitude toward the whole proceedings — something a characteristically tame Monica doesn't take too kindly to.
Monica sings: "It don't matter if he spends the night, his home's somewhere else/ If you don't make his breakfast, you's a sideline ho!"
"That song has been shutting down a lot of Internet sites," Monica said. "Because I talk about when I was with someone back in the day who cheated on me in the most malicious, deceptive ways. And when I referred to the chick, I always referred to her as the 'sideline ho,' because she was too comfortable with her position."
Other songs on Makings include the Jermaine Dupri-produced ballad "Get Away," which details Monica's 10-plus years in the public eye, and "Thanks for Tha Misery," written by Sean Garrett.
But it's the Missy Elliott-helmed "Dozen Roses" — slated to be the follow-up to her current single, "Everytime Tha Beat Drop" — that Monica finds herself most attached to. She calls the track, which samples Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings of You," her personal favorite on the album.
"I think the honesty of the record is what will hopefully help people gravitate to it," she said. "I don't want to do anything contrived. I want people to know I've been through the same situations as them and that's why I share so many of my personal experiences. In the process, I've still been able to live my dreams, and I want people to see that side of it.
"I look back over the past decade of my life," she added, "and I took everything — the good and the bad — and really made a musical diary."