All Eyez on Me is Monica's third studio album that was released in Japan on October 21, 2002 by J Records.
The album was supposed to be released in the United States in November of 2002, but it was eventually put on hold due to heavy bootlegging after its release in Japan and became widely available on the Internet through file-sharing services.
It was later partially re-recorded and retooled as "After the Storm" in 2003.
- I'm Back
- All Eyez On Me
- U Should've Known
- Too Hood (featuring Jermaine Dupri)
- I Wrote This Song
- U Deserve (featuring Hussein Fatal)
- Breaks My Heart
- Ain't Gonna Cry No More
- If U Were The Girl
- What Hurts The Most
- Just Another Girl
- What My Heart Says
In June of 2000, in a interview with MTV News, Monica revealed that she was planning to begin working on a follow-up album to "The Boy Is Mine" throughout the summer with a first single to be released in October of that same year.
Expressing her interest in reteaming with the core musicians that she had worked with on her second album (including frequent collaborators Dallas Austin, Rodney Jerkins, David Foster, Daryl Simmons & Jermaine Dupri), Monica expected the album to be released in the first quarter of 2001 following her involvement with Oscar Mayer's "Jingle Jam Talent Search" contest and filming her first major motion picture, "Love Song" (which was released in 2001).
However, the following month, personal tribulations put a temporary halt on the album's production when Monica's former boyfriend, Jarvis "Knot" Weems committed suicide by shooting himself in the head while they visited the graveside of Weems' brother (who was killed in a car accident in 1998). Weems left behind a daughter from a previous relationship, who Monica took into care after going into hiatus.
According to Monica in 2001: "Jarvis' death had everything to do with me not working. I was not able [...] I was working all these hours after it happened, [but] I realized in the midst of everything, I couldn't handle it. I'm not ashamed to say that I decided to step back and get the help I needed to really come from within."
In the first quarter of 2001, her single "Just Another Girl", taken from the soundtrack of the 2001 motion picture Down to Earth, was released.
Monica eventually decided to return to the recording studio to prepare the release of her third album in fall 2001.
Over the course of the sessions, Clive Davis (who had taken Monica with him from his former label, Arista Records, to his latest venture, J Records) emerged as Monica's new mentor. He replaced producer Dallas Austin, while longtime contributor Jermaine Dupri served as the album's executive producer.
Throughout the process, Monica primarily focused on working with her usual stable of producers, which also included Austin, production team Soulshock & Karlin, Bryan Michael Cox, and Rodney Jerkins and his Darkchild crew.
Even though she "had never thought about writing much" by then, Monica's producers encouraged her to intensify her work on the album and to write and contribute own lyrics and ideas to the songs.
Monica said: "I didn't have one concept in mind: I just thought about the situations and that they might be worth sharing."
In the end, she came up with nine songs for her third album, which she declared as "quite serious" because of its more-adult subject-matter and moreover called it her " 'coming of age' record" with the view to "establish the kind of fans who will be with me for the next ten years and more".
Although the album was tentatively titled "I'm Back" and "Monica" at one time or another, it was eventually named after the album's lead single, "All Eyez on Me."
Though originally expected to be released worldwide, "All Eyez on Me" received a wide release on October 21, 2002 in Japan only.
The album was initially scheduled for a US release in July 2002 and then pushed back to September before setting a release date of November 12th.
However, by the time it was being scheduled for domestic release, the album had been heavily bootlegged in Japan and become widely available through Internet file-sharing services.
In addition, the first single released from the project, "All Eyez on Me" had experienced moderate success on the charts, while follow-up "Too Hood," also got a lukewarm response.
As a result, "All Eyez on Me" was pulled from stores days after the release and Monica's label J Records asked her to substantially reconstruct the record with a host of new producers, including musician Missy Elliott who would emerge as the new version's executive producer.
"All Eyez on Me" peaked at #14 on the Oricon Albums chart in Japan and #88 on the Schweizer Hitparade Albums chart in Switzerland.
Upon its limited release, "All Eyez on Me" received generally mixed reviews from music critics.
Michael Endelman wrote in his early review for The Boston Globe: "Like recent releases from Christina Aguilera and Brandy, the new album from Monica finds the 21-year-old R&B singer trying to escape her teen-pop past. Thankfully, the result is more successful than Aguilera's recent foray into brazen sexuality and strained grunge rock. Her first album in four years, All Eyez on Me continues the pleasant, light-hearted soul that Monica is known for, while expanding into more mature subject matter.
On the other hand, Blender magazine rated the album two out of five stars only.