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Code Red is Monica's eighth studio album that was released on December 18, 2015 by RCA Records.

The album coincided with the 20th anniversary of her debut album, "Miss Thang."

TracklistingEdit

  1. Code Red (featuring Missy Elliott and Laiyah) 4:26
  2. Just Right For Me (featuring Lil Wayne) 3:20
  3. Love Just Ain't Enough (featuring Timbaland) 3:23
  4. Call My Name 4:14
  5. I Know 3:19
  6. All Men Lie (featuring Timbaland) 2:32
  7. Deep 3:54
  8. Hustler's Ambition (featuring Akon) 4:19
  9. Alone In Your Heart 3:36
  10. Suga 3:20
  11. Ocean Of Tears 3:56
  12. Saints & Sinners 4:02
  13. I Miss Music 3:13
  14. Anchor 5:01

Album BackgroundEdit

Following the release of her seventh studio album, "New Life" and a Grammy-Award-nominated collaboration with gospel artists Fred Hammond, James Fortune and FIYA on the single, "Hold On," Monica took a hiatus in which she began preparing for a follow-up album.

On October 8, 2012 (six months after the release of "New Life"), Monica confirmed that she was in the early stages of her eighth album and having meetings with RCA Records CEO Peter Edge while residing in New York City.

During her hiatus, Monica gave birth to her third child, daughter Laiyah Shannon Brown (her first child with NBA player Shannon Brown).

While she mostly cared for her daughter, Monica soon resumed recording and the following month, she appeared on the soundtrack of Malcolm D. Lee's Christmas comedy-drama, "The Best Man Holiday" with her rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

In early 2015, in an interview for Atlanta urban radio station Hot 107.9 FM, Monica expressed dissatisfaction with contemporary R&B radio.

She intended "Code Red" to help change that status, commenting: "Right now for R&B music, there's a state of emergency. Myself being one person, one artist, I can't change that on my own. No one is that powerful, but all of us together, I think we can make huge strides, allowing this generation to enjoy what this music embodies, which is a lot of love, passion, soul."

In an interview with online music magazine Singersroom, Monica further elaborated: "Code Red is 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. So I'm saying that this is a part of my fight, the continuation of making great music."

Following the release and moderate commercial success of "New Life", Monica felt that she was distancing herself from younger music listeners and that the album, while neither specifically recorded for her core audience nor urban adult contemporary, had failed to connect with a more influential audience.

Initial plans had Monica working with frequent collaborators such as Missy Elliott, Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, Polow Da Don, Stargate but also new contributors, including Red Styles and Mike Will Made It, to create a "fresh sound".

CompositionEdit

The title track, "Code Red" is an aggressive uptempo dance song that features guest vocals by longtime collaborator Missy Elliott as well as a cameo from Monica's daughter Laiyah. It was inspired by "the sound that lived in Atlanta, especially in the 1990s".

Lyrically, the song sees Monica and Elliott lamenting those artists who are out chasing hits, leading to the genre’s lack of creativity and diversity.

"Just Right for Me" is a hip hop-infused soul track that jumbles a sample of the 1968 song "Much Better Off", performed by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, with a thick drum arrangement. Musically, the song follows previous singles such as “So Gone” and “Everything to Me".

"Love Just Ain’t Enough" (a duet with Timbaland) is a soulful mid-tempo track led by a snap beat.

"Call My Name" opens with a self-recorded portion from "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", a song written for Walt Disney's film, "Cinderella." On the uplifting ballad, Monica suspects her lover of cheating, asking him to "call my name".

Supported by piano and reverb, Monica pledges ler love and loyalty on "I Know," a heartfelt ballad in which she sings about leaving emotional baggage behind while getting into a new relationship.

On "All Men Lie" (another duet sung and written by Timbaland), Monica insists that all men are the same. Led by a mix of big horns and hip-hop sensibility it follows an experimental melancholy.

"Deep" is a luminous ballad that takes on an edgier tone as the singer talks about falling in love.

"Hustler's Ambition" features singer Akon and tells the tale of distanced but committed love between a criminal and his woman over Latin-inspired instrumentals and soft singing.

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Code Red" debuted at #4 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #27 on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 35,656 copies.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Code Red" has received generally mixed reviews from music critics.

Knoxville News Sentinel writer Chuck Campbell gave the album four stars out of five. While he complimented her collaborations with Lil Wayne, Elliott, and Timbaland, he stated that "Monica fares best on Code Red when she goes it alone at the microphone with her powerful pipes", making "a good case for reviving R&B with Code Red."

Michael Arceneaux, writing for Ebony, declared Code Red "an enjoyable listen", praising it as "Monica’s best album in years, and a reminder that when you have a format that works for you, stick with it and stop swerving".

He noted comparisons with Tamia's album, "Love Life", citing its undoubtedly "awareness of current trends, and in select cases on the album, offers a nod to them without going too far left."

Newsday' Glenn Gamboa found that with Code Red, Monica raises "the flag for over-30 R&B lovers", spending "the rest of Code Red looking to give people something new to sing to. And that doesn’t mean just old-school soul".

In his mixed review, Jon Caramanica of New York Times felt that the Code Red "manifests in the tension between traditionalist instincts and modern music-making imperatives". He also noted that its sound reflects "choices of an artist trying to thread several needles at once".

Allmusic's Andy Kellman rated the album three ouf of five stars and summed it as "another Monica album that, at its best, draws from the past while remaining in the present [...] Subtract the mixed and muddled messages, and Code Red is satisfactory."

He felt that "what truly distinguishes Code Red from the rest of Monica's albums is that the singer is credited as co-writer of every track. Unsurprisingly, she sounds completely connected to every song".

Canadian music magazine Exclaim! summed that "Code Red is a well packaged collection of songs, but falls short on containing anything on the same calibre of Monica's iconic hit "The Boy Is Mine."

L. Michael Gipson from Soultracks called the album a "project that boasts strong vocals, but songs not always equal in memorability to the voice or to the fight to save more traditional R&B in the mainstream or commercial arena [...] As is usual in what determines an album’s creative, if not always commercial success, it’s still all about the songs, and there are only good, not great ones here."

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