R&B singer Monica has been virtually MIA since releasing The Makings of Me, her worst-selling album to date, in Oct. 2006. She’s popped up here and there, making cameos at Atlanta-based events and on reality shows like “Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is,” but in the fast-moving music industry, this hasn’t been enough to keep her relevant to the masses. So what does she do to generate buzz about her new album? Star in the reality show “Monica: Still Standing” on BET to chronicle the making of her next studio album, like so many other celebs have done. Genre overkill much?The show premiered last night, and I wasn’t expecting to like it. I’ve never been a huge fan of Monica’s. I’ve liked some of her singles and took her side during the Brandy “Boy Is Mine” feud back in the day, but I’ve never purchased any of her albums. And I also felt a little conflicted about giving my attention to a show on BET, but I’m glad I got over my apprehension.
“Still Standing” focuses not only on the making of Monica’s album, but also on her role of a mother to two young sons. “I think it gives people an in-depth look how hard it is to stay relevant in the music business and balancing family life,” she told Access Atlanta, a blog by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable baring their souls. I am. I’m a work in progress. I’m going through things every day just like everybody else.”
“Things” is an understatement. In 2000, Monica witnessed her then-boyfriend commit suicide. She then began a tumultuous relationship with rapper C-Murder. And clashed over The Makings of Me with her label, J Records. Last night, she revealed that the Monica we saw in the “Everytime Tha Beat Drop” video wasn’t the real Monica.
From watching the premiere episode of her show, I gather that the real Monica is someone who is committed to family. She’s raising her sons along with longtime boyfriend, rapper Rodney “Rocko” Hill Jr. There are no nannies or assistants. She prefers to surround herself and her children with relatives who take up the slack when she has work obligations. Even her manager is a first cousin — she quit her job at Lockheed Martin to take over Monica’s career when she was a teen. She didn’t have a contract and acted on good faith.
And faith is also a central theme throughout “Still Standing.” I guess you’d have to have some in order to recover from a lover’s suicide and a rocky relationship. Despite not being a huge fan of Monica’s, I’m rooting for her because she’s willing to expose herself not only for entertainment and publicity, but, I think, to genuinely relate to and help those who are watching. Now, if only she’d do something about that crazy, finger-in-a-light-socket hairdo. Then I’d really be content to watch and enjoy “Still Standing.”