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Miss Thang is Monica's debut studio album that was released on July 18, 1995 by Rowdy Records and distributed by Arista Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Miss Thang 3:52
  2. Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days) 4:18
  3. Like This And Like That (featuring Mr. Malik) 4:41
  4. Get Down 4:22
  5. With You 4:50
  6. Skate 4:26
  7. Angel 4:44
  8. Woman In Me (Interlude) 1:36
  9. Tell Me If You Still Care 4:45
  10. Let's Straighten It Out (featuring Usher) 4:25
  11. Before You Walk Out Of My Life 4:53
  12. Now I'm Gone 4:39
  13. Why I Love You So Much 4:30
  14. Never Can Say Goodbye 5:02
  15. Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days) (Remix) 3:50
  16. Forever Always 4:4

Album BackgroundEdit

In 1992, after winning a series of local talent contests, Monica was introduced to music producer Dallas Austin. Impressed by her voice and persona after hearing her perform Whitney Houston's 1986 hit single "Greatest Love of All", Dallas offered her a record deal with his Arista-distributed label, Rowdy Records when she was 12 years old.

A teacher and growing father figure, Austin became instrumental in tutoring Monica, while executive producing her debut album under the Rowdy rooster.

A breakaway from regular teenage life, Austin would often pick Monica up after school and whisk her off to a music studio most evenings. He also consulted Flavor Unit, owned rapper Queen Latifah, to serve as Monica's management and arranged recording sessions with his in-house protégés Arnold Hennings, Tim & Bob, and Colin Wolfe for her debut album.

In addition, Carsten Schack and Kenneth Karlin from Danish production duo Soulshock & Karlin would hand in their yet-unreleased song "Before You Walk Out of My Life", a leftover track from Toni Braxton's second studio album, "Secrets" for Monica to record.

With much of the album being recorded during her years of 1993 and 1995 (during her teenage years), Monica has described the period as hard work. According to her: "It was more from the stress I put on myself than it was pressure from others. There were so many young artists releasing records, and I wanted to stand out. I was a regular female growing up in the inner city, and I wanted to be who I was."

Throughout the recording process, Monica ensured the album's music and lyrical content reflected her persona. As a result, she vetoed some of the songs selected for the album. In an interview with Billboard, she said: " "I was very assertive in making sure the album was really me. How can you show your feeling in a song when it's about something you don't know about?"

Commenting on the album title, Monica later elaborated: “Dallas [Austin] would bring producers in the studio to play records for me and I’d be quick to say ‘No’ if I didn’t feel it. I knew who I was and what I wanted to say. That’s where Miss Thang came from. He’d say, ‘Miss Thang don’t like it!’."

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Miss Thang" debuted and peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200 and #7 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart with sales of 31,500 units during its first week.

It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA and has scored a domestic sales total of about 1.5 million copies.

In 1995, the album was ranked at #65 on Billboard's Top R&B Albums year-end chart.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Miss Thang" received generally mixed to positive reviews from music critics.

Billboard complimented the album for its "strong, today-styled hip-hop and R&B melodies" and Monica's singing versatility. They also noted that the "clever production maintains set's overall high energy, while remaining secondary to singer's vocals – creating a youthful, but eclectic 16 tracks.

In his review for Allmusic, Craig Lytle rated it three out of five stars and wrote that "the album focuses on hip-hop and contemporary urban cuts, including a pair of R&B chart-toppers." He felt that "in spite of her youthful age, Monica conveys a surprisingly mature sound."

The New York Times's Kevin Sack found that "producer Dallas Austin injected this debut album with plenty of attitude."

The Los Angeles Times writer Connie Johnson wrote that: "fourteen-year-old Monica is the best teen singer to come along since, well, Brandy. While "Don't Take It Personal," an urban radio staple, only hints at her abilities, she tackles Latimore's old-school classic "Let's Straighten It Out" with all the clear-eyed assertiveness of an R&B veteran. Miss Thang indeed."

Christian Hoard, writing for The Rolling Stone Album Guide, called Miss Thang "an assured, streetwise amalgam of soul, pop, hip-hop, and blues". While he found praise for the up-tempo songs on the album, Hoard was less impressed with "the record's many soppy, MOR ballads" such as "Before You Walk Out of My Life."

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