[EXCLUSIVE] Monica Talks Code Red, Evolution of R&B, Working with Missy & Akon, and More

On Sunday, December 13, R&B superstar Monica was in the Big Apple promoting her eighth studio album Code Red at the Gramercy Theatre, completing her 22-city "Code Red Experience" tour with special guest Rico Love. Fans were delighted to see the Grammy award-winning singer rip the stage, and that's exactly what she did! Once the music began, Monica's voice and stage presence was gratifying and breathtaking; she connected with her fans on so many levels, which made her performance more meaningful.

During her set, the Atlanta native performed some of her biggest hits including, "Angel of Mine," "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Those Days)," "Why I Love You So Much," "So Gone," "Love All Over Me," "The Boy is Mine," "Before You Walk Out of My Life," and "You Should've Known Better." She also performed singles from her forthcoming album as well, which was a special treat for the fans.

Twenty years later, Monica is still one of the most enduring singers in the industry. She worked with so many artists including Brandy, DMX, Tyrese, Keyshia Cole, 112, producer Polo da Don, Missy Elliott, Jermaine Dupri, Usher, gospel artist James Fortune & FIYA, the late Whitney Houston, and the list goes on.

Monica is highly respected in the industry because of her everlasting faith in God, her honesty, her captivating smile, acknowledging her role as a wife and mother, and continuing to be a positive influence in people's lives. Monica's magnetic voice and lyrical content has inspired others to live life to the fullest, believe in themselves, and learn from their previous mistakes and setbacks.

The humble southern songsbird spoke with Singersroom.com before her concert about the new album, her ongoing love for music, and why her career has spanned twenty years. Monica's new album Code Red will be available on Friday, December 18th.

Hit "Next" below to check out pictures from her NYC performance and peep our exclusive interview!!!!

Naming the Album Code Red– This is the eighth studio album. Code Red was just my way of saying let's bring attention to the music. I love the music today, but I think it's important to get back to music that touched our hearts. Let's get back to the soul of R&B music. Like, you know where you were when you heard a song for the very first time and a lot of that is missing in today's music. I think timeless music still has to be appreciated. So I'm saying [with this title] is that this a part of my fight, the continuation of making great music. There are so many great artists other than myself: Tyrese, Brandy, myself are continuing to make great music that people still want to hear today.

Completing Another Milestone While Recording Code RedCode Red was just about my life and where it is now. I'm okay with being me. As I got older, I referred to where I was when I first started in '95. I was very fearless about the politics; it was just about the music. I wouldn't think about the other things that come along with the industry. Music saved my life. Whenever I was going through something, I would just be myself singing and writing about certain things. It would just take me away from whatever I was going through. And so when I was making music, I enjoyed taking people away from whatever that was taken place in their lives. And I had to get back to that. I had to get back to taking all of the stuff I've been through, the different things I've seen, and the business part of the music while creating the music. So it's just the fearlessness in the music, and that's why Code Red led me to dye my hair red. It was about making a statement without opening my mouth, about me just being okay with being me. I'm just ready to take this music where I think it should be for my fans.

Working with Missy Elliott & Daughter Laiyah On the Uptempo Track "Code Red" – We've always been able to work together because of our friendship. We're friends, and when we go in the studio, we create great music. Missy and I talk about the things that people can relate to from the outside world. The music is pure and real. It's just natural. The music we make in the studio is all about the fans. So as we work, I really have a chance to tune in to see the final result of the song. Missy always thinks of my taste in music as an artist and for her, it's just all about the music.

Improving The Artistry In R&B Music – I think artists have to be fearless as a whole. As an artist, we're always trying not to say the wrong things in the music. But I think we need to recognize why R&B was relevant in the first place. Music can bring you through tragedies; it can get you through heartbreak and pain, and celebrate the good times. Everything doesn't have to be all bad. When you hear a record, it can put a smile on your face, and you think about the best songs that were released as far as age. Like just say, you're 20 years old, you can still think about timeless music because it's a part of you, and think about the love behind certain records. You want your music to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

The Track "Hustler Ambition" ft. Akon – A lot of people don't realize that Akon and I knew each other way before he came out as an artist. Dallas Austin was really the one who put me in this position, and he always introduced his artists to Devyne Stephens. And at that time, Akon was his artist, so we started our journey together. So working with Akon was easy. He created the record and said, "Sis, I know you can sing this and kill it." So a lot of people don't realize through the internet, there's a lot of history that you don't know unless we share it. So our relationship goes far beyond the music.

Longevity In the Business and Leaving a Legacy Behind – Well, honestly, I don't think about it too much. I keep the authenticity in my music, whether I'm going through something really bad, typically it's in the music. It's important to be honest with myself and the fans. As long as I'm not hurting anybody else, then I think that's what keeps us connected. I don't think it has anything to do with anything other than the fact that they know when I sing, I feel it. They know when I say it, they know it's coming from me, and I'm okay with not being popular, as long as I am authentic in my craft.

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