Review Roundup: Monica – ‘New Life’

New Life

Seventeen years after the release of her debut Miss Thang, Monica stands tall on her sixth album New Life. Now married with two kids, the R&B veteran stays true to her R&B roots while collaborating with today’s hitmakers including Rico Love, Salaam Remi, and Polow da Don. She reunites with Brandy on the powerful duet “It All Belongs to Me” and explores new territory with Wale on “Take a Chance.” Did she win over the critics? Find out below.

Entertainment Weekly: Her seventh album is a thoroughly last-millennium set of self-help ballads about starting over (“Take a Chance”) and finding strength in tears (“Cry”), set to the kind of cheesy slow-jam beats that were hot back during Monica’s previous life as a ’90s teen phenom. C+

Los Angeles Times: Even heavyweight producers Missy Elliott and Polow da Don seem asleep at the wheel, and it’s only on New Life’s final two tracks—”Cry,” produced by Salaam Remi, and “Time to Move On,” produced by D. Smith—that Monica tackles worthy material, and her seasoned, emotive voice soars. 2/4

The Washington Post: Most of New Life is middle-of-the-road R&B with a few electro flourishes baked in, and though Monica deserves something meatier than these passive done-me-wrong songs, she doesn’t get it until the penultimate track, the Adele-recalling “Time to Move On,” an old-school call that emphasizes her astounding range.

Reuters: It’s admirable that she wants to act her age and not her hip-hop shoe size, eschewing club bangers to focus on balladry that showcases her voice and befits a woman who’s enjoying settling down, which is something she seemed to have started to accomplish with 2010’s Still Standing.

The Associated Press: Vocally, Monica has never disappointed: Her voice is powerful and pure. But the album sounds uneven and underwhelming, perhaps due to the large number of producers, including past collaborators Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox and Missy Elliott, along with new blood like Salaam Remi and Rico Love. With all that talent behind Monica, it’s surprising this album has such a shortage of standout hits.

NME: New Life has its moments—Missy Elliott collaboration “Anything (To Find You)” is a strapping banger—but overall there are far too many limp ballads to really excite. 4/10

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “It All Belongs to Me,” “Man Who Has Everything,” “Anything (To Find You)”



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47 Comments

  1. lotus

    don’t really care about what critics are talking bout Monica New Life is the shit!!! loves it!!! no Monica don’t do dance -uptempo tracks she don’t even like to dance…she stays true to what she does best which is SANG on some nice ballads!!! rather she’s doin some nice sexy slow jam…or that great vocal ballad where she’s baring heart and soul in a relationship that just didn’t last, Monica’s NEW LIFE has Everything!!! B++++

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  2. Trillafood

    I agree. There’s no balance. But I think she may have a urban hit “Daddy’s Good Girl”, “Without You” and “Big Mistake”.

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  3. Alex!

    Why is it do hard for Black artist to sell R&B? I’m sure if Adele sang these songs everyone would LOVE it! SO weird.

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    DRB Reply:

    @Alex!, not really. Bland is bland. They all run to the same producers and take on lame, generic material.

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    yoooo Reply:

    @DRB, co-sign..bland is bland..monica can sang, but her music is boring

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    Team Monica Reply:

    @Alex!, True sooo True Alex, I like Adele alot but I dig Monica more. She being true to what she enjoys. They said the same thing two CD’s ago when she incorporated club bangers and pop music with “everytime the beat drops” they still weren’t satisfied. After all these years monica still has a huge following and a demanding audience for that reason she will always sell records. I hope and pray that regardless to what the critics say she continues to put out music until she no longer can. Music SHE WANTS!!! to put out because thats the meaning of a true artist. I am definately an appreciater of her music. She can continue to try new stuff if she likes but don’t lose site off who she is an an artist to satisfy the critics alone.
    Team Monica!

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    yoooo Reply:

    @Team Monica, naw honestly I’m a fan of real soul music and RnB. Everyone from Ann Peebles, Otis Redding, Phyllis Hyman, but this album just doesn’t do it for me. She can sing without a doubt, but there is some disconnect here. It’s ok to stay true to your craft, but at least show some sign of growth.

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    From Tokyo Reply:

    @Alex!, Agreed. You said it right there. The mainstream doesn’t recognize straight R&B anymore.

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  4. TeeJ

    This album makes me sleepy….. Zzz

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  5. Truth

    Daddys Good Girl is the only song i really like on the album the production is really good and could definately do well on Billboard. Other than that there is not really any other stand out tracks to me. I wish Monica could go back to her old school roots with a mix of new school i want songs like Dont Take It Personal, Before You Walk Out My Life, Angel Of Mine. Monica is that type of singer that deserves better this New Life Album is very underwhelming.

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  6. IV.

    It’s an R&B album why can’t people respect it as such? Why should artists not be respected for the kind of material they create? Monica has never given a dance pop song or even high energy uptempos so why start now? I agree the album is boring af but damn you have to listen to an album for what it is then critique not judge it on what other artists are doing.

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  7. THE MALEZ

    THE CRITICS ARE GOING IN ON MY GIRL

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  8. Dezman

    I love Monica don’t get me wrong! Raw Talent Galore! However, there isn’t consistency with this album. It definitely feels like “something” is missing, especially for an artist of her caliber! I’ll even go a step further and say that her 4 BONUS TRACKS are the best thing on the album…so just imagine buying only the regular version! You may feel bamboozled!!

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  9. rickie

    I actually love da album, its a great r&b album

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  10. rickie

    Daddy’s good girl, man who has everything, amazing, without you and 3-D are def the standout tracks.

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  11. shandy

    She’s never made club records and when she tried with ‘Everytime the beat drop’ and ‘Anything’ nobody was checkin for it. Radio is only gonna play the ‘popular’ artists instead of quality music. I def think the album cld have been better but I still love it

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  12. myke

    i hate the cd…3 good track

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  13. brandon

    I have to hear the album myself to judge…but good luck MO

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  14. Shy

    I think the album is GREAT!! It’s R&B, it’s not that pop R&B that be on the radio. This is real music and the woman is singing her heart out! But I guess these days, people (the critics) like singers who really don’t have any talent!!

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  15. av

    In 3D and without u, damn good tracks. Until its gone and it all belongs to me are my personal fave’s. Can’t stop listening to 3D, I relate so much. Just sent my ex on his bbm, I dedicate it to him.

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  16. Shy

    Catch Me, Time to Move On, and Anything to Find you; are my fav!!

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  17. Danny P

    I like “Daddy’s Good Girl”, “Man Who Has Everything”, “Take a Chance”, “Without You”, “Amazing”, “Cry” & “In 3D”.

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  18. trish

    idc wat nobody say this album bumps, ‘without you’ is hands down the best song Monica made in awhile

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  19. key

    im happy that still some real rnb none commercial like everyone now, music is dead,talent is dead passion is dead,it’s all about money money and money now, everyone doing the same thing,same sort of music same songs,there is no difference and ima always happy when i see my real rnb artist or real hiphop artist like lil’kim keep the hiphop in hiphop now turn into pop artist,anyway personal opinion

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  20. key

    and what makes me more mad is the tv,u can see sometime they say special rnb then u happy to watch and what are u going to have lady gaga or katie perry, i respect them for what they do but im sorry this is not rnb or special hiphop on tv and what u have florida or the other jokes,again respect for what they do but this is not hiphop, how sad is it

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  21. joe franco

    daddys good girl is gooooood

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  22. Rap*LovesJesus

    Its not about her doing pop but the rnb needs to be exciting. It can be ballads but Big Mistake is boring af and take a chance is boring as.

    I love mo but she needs to do rnb 2012 and not rnb 90s bc its too dated.

    the album is ok but could have been so much better. she should have rico do the whole thing bc his stuff is hotttttt on it.

    Daddy and Man are hits.

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  23. DRB

    Bland is bland. Nobody is saying she should do pop or criticizing her for still doing R&B. Lackluster comes in all genres.

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  24. Kwame

    Sorry Monica but I’m
    Just not jumping out of my seat on this album, what happen I really wanted to buy it, the song with brandy is the only really song I like, Oh I love until its gone very true song thanks for that, daddy’s lil girl is ok but other then that I’m not feeling it. Much love to you and good luck on your sales I hope you reach your goal

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  25. THE MALEZ

    I LOVE THE WHOLE ALBUM !!!

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  26. Rasan

    ‘Still Standing’ is still better!!! This is all.

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  27. Rasan

    P.S. She should have just stuck with Missy Elliott or better yet went with Salaam Remi for the entire project. They both know how to work with voices like hers. Rico Love really is not that incredible of a producer in my opinion. The only song that he did that I like was Teairra Mari “That’s All Me” which could have been her first single, but they let it go for free. Other than I just don’t see the hype!

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  28. Diamond Girl

    As a super fan of Monica, i knew the album was in trouble when it got pushed back the first time and the second time was when they started using “it all belongs to me” as the lead-off single. smh..The song itself sucks. really. bad. The sad part is that we love Mo and Brandy so we listen, but no one is checking for it. Anything to find u could have ben the banger if released the right time. I always wish her the best, maybe next time

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  29. Tom-Tom

    Is it just me, I thought this was her best album. Especially lyrically.

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  30. @dirtypeaches

    The album just needed some tempo to it. This isn’t a record to jam to. Her vocals are flawless. They’ve been that we. We all know she can sing the hell out of any material she’s given. But at least with “Still Standing” she gave us something that knocked (“If You Were My Man”, “Mirror”, “Here I Am, “Blackberry”). idk…I hoped for more. Still love her though.

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  31. whitechocolate

    Havent heard the full album yet but I love “Until It’s Gone”. Nobody appreciated good vocals. They’d rather watch karaoke on American Idol.

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    Diamond Reply:

    @whitechocolate, IT’S ABOUT GOOD VOCALS, BUT IT’S ABOUT QUALITY MUSIC TO.

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  32. Diamond

    ALOT OF HORRIBLE REVIEWS, SHEEESH. I LIKE MONICA, BUT THAT SONG SHE DID WITH BRANDY DOESN’T MOVE ME. I CAN’T JUDGE HER ALBUM, BECAUSE I HAVEN’T HEARD IT YET.

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  33. SLW1

    The album in my opinion is pretty solid…of course I wanted to hear more of her powerful raw voice which some of the tracks didnt give…BUT overall im glad that R&B is making its way back and she is doing R&B…all of the songs really have substance and shes singing about true things…people just dont respect the R&B genre anymore…overall she did great!!!! The music industry has really changed….for the worst

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  34. MmmHmm

    I LOVE HER NEW ALBUM!

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  35. Kyle

    I give her so much credit for sticking to what she WANTS to do and not conforming to what others expect her to do; especially in today’s age where fads come and go and songs are created ‘for the moment.’ I don’t think this album sounds dated, I just think selects tracks that showcase her vocals and are relateable to other people. This might be her best album yet IMO. It definitely showcases her maturity and growth as an artist and as a person. Prop to her! Support REAL R&B MUSIC!

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  36. Toronto

    This is a dope album. Her music has matured and i look for vocals and good solid R&B and Monica delivered. I think this is her best album to date !!

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  37. Kahari

    Monica’s New Life is nothing game changing, but it’s predecessor Still Standing made great for her musical comeback. Great writing, great production and contemporary R&B with flashes of old school influences on 2 of the tracks. With New Life, it’s mostly, balladry and mid-tempos. The production isn’t different as it’s produced by Rico Love, one of the most prominent R&B hitmakers of today. Maybe if they would have adjusted the track listing so the mood wouldn’t just from high to low, fast to slow. Monica isn’t worried about these reviews. She’s happy and that’s all that matters.

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  38. Kilyan

    CriticS are quite harSh ..
    This is a good album !
    Keep listening to it.
    I wouldn’t have expect more from Mo…
    This is RnB at his purest.

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  39. From Tokyo

    She’s beautiful. I like this picture!

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  40. spidaa

    IDGAF what no one says IM IN LOVE WITH THIS ALBUM from beginning to end yall dont kno music…

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  41. davyd69

    I like the album, all tracks are good except breathe because there is no beat but overall i like it and better than still standing !!!

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