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New Life is Monica's seventh studio album that was released on April 6, 2012 by RCA Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. New Life (Intro) (featuring Mary J. Blige) 1:29
  2. It All Belongs To Me (featuring Brandy) 4:04
  3. Daddy's Good Girl 4:39
  4. Man Who Has Everything 3:55
  5. Big Mistake 3:49
  6. Take A Chance (featuring Wale) 3:44
  7. Without You 4:09
  8. Until It's Gone 3:43
  9. Amazing 4:03
  10. Cry 3:44
  11. Time To Move On 4:29
  12. New Life (Outro) 0:58
  13. Breathe 3:00
  14. In 3D 3:55
  15. Catch Me 3:08
  16. Anything (To Find You) (featuring Rick Ross) 3:42

Album BackgroundEdit

Monica began recording the album during the third quarter of 2010 (just weeks after the release of "Still Standing"). She recorded several songs in Los Angeles, California with longtime collaborator, producer & cousin, Polow da Don, who was consulted to executive produce the album.

Together, Monica and Polow da Don worked on what was expected to be the bulk of the album as she envisioned to create the "meat" of the album's center with him. Monica hoped that as with "Still Standing," determining an album title would help find a direction on the project and intended to complete it by mid-2011.

As with previous albums, Monica reteamed with frequent contributors such as Bryan-Michael Cox, Missy Elliott, Jazmine Sullivan, and Cainon Lamb but also worked with a group of several new of musicians, songwriters, and producers

However, it wasn't until January 2012 that she recorded with other producers apart from Polow, when she entered studio sessions with Pop & Oak and D. Smith to record "Catch Me" and "Time to Move On."

Most of the album's songs were recorded at the Audio Vision Studios and Circle House Recordings in Miami, Florida.

Monica recorded the song "Cry" at the Chalice Recording Studios in Hollywood, and "Without You" at the No Excuses Studios in Santa Monica, California.

The sessions for "New Life (Intro)" and "Amazing" took place at Doppler Studios and South Side Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

The album was initially expected to be released as her fifth album with J Records, much of it was eventually recorded under RCA Records after the restructuring of the RCA Music Group in October 2011 which shuttered J along with sister labels Jive and Arista.

Originally scheduled for a November 2011 release, the final recording sessions for "New Life" with producer Hit-Boy took place in October.

On November 2, 2011, Monica took to Twitter to announce that the album would be postponed and that she along with the label was planning to restructure "the entire plan for the album."

Within the next months, she resumed recording for the album and booked additional studio sessions with Rico Love and co-producers Earl & E, Mr. Morris, and Pierre Medor to retool "New Life."

CompositionEdit

A contemporary R&B album, "New Life" features upbeat pop songs, hip hop-textured midtempo tracks and anthemic ballads.

Along with contemporary urban sounds, its music incorporates soft reggae elements, muted gospel and particularly on Missy Elliott's songs, heavy soul influences that fit with the quiet storm radio format.

"It All Belongs to Me" is a midtempo R&B ballad that features singer Brandy and ends in a melismatic form.

Lyrically, the song is a female empowerment anthem in which both singers claims their belongings as they leave their abusive boyfriends behind. The chorus has pop cultural references to MacBook and Facebook.

"Daddy's Good Girl", is musical pledge of devotion, in which Monica calls for love's assurance, singing "as long as I know you got that love for me, I'll be g.o.o.d."

"Man Who Has Everything" is Caribbean-tinged track about how money can't buy love.[22] It has a reggae-inspired arrangement.

On "Big Mistake," Monica sings about heartbreak and moving beyond over finger snapping and a cappella backing vocals, assuring "make no mistake, you won't my mistake no more."

"Take a Chance" featuring rapper Wale depicts both parties of a love story in which Monica declared that she Is ready for more, while her lover stands still with hesitance.

Airy and featherweight, the song features an understated synthpop instrumental, that fades into the background during the verses before rising into a layered affair for the chorus.

"Without You" is a ballad and musical dedication to Monica's husband, NBA basketball player Shannon Brown. It features a reverb-heavy percussion line, throbbing synth riffs and twinkling piano sounds.

"Until It's Gone" is a soulful, anthemic ballad built upon percussion with piano chords that mixes a deft synth with a drum program studio vibe. Lyrically, it explores the breakdown of an old relationship.

"Amazing" (which deals with loyalty) is a mid-tempo slow jam that mixes distracting, amelodic electronic bleeps with Monica's vocal track.

"Cry" is retro-soul ballad about finding strength in crying while in a loving relationship. It features background vocals by its composer, singer Jazmine Sullivan.

On the slow-burning "Time to Move On," Monica sings with seasoned, emotive voice soars and lung-bursting harmonies. A light-handed use of Stax-era vintage sounds, it mixes her vocals with clean bluesy guitar riffs and gospel choir backups.

"Anything (To Find You)" is an uptempo song, which exhibits elements of the early- to mid 1990s hip hop soul music and samples "Who Shot Ya?" by The Notorious B.I.G. and Diddy, while using an interpolation of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "You're All I Need to Get By." The original version of the song also featured rapper Lil' Kim next to Rick Ross.

Chart PerformanceEdit

"New Life" debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart with moderately successful first-week sales of 69,000 copies.

As of September 2015, the album has sold a total of 196,000 copies in the United States.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"New Life" received generally mixed reviews from music critics.

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 58, based on seven reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews".

Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly criticized its "cheesy choruses and outdated tun", and called the album "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."

Los Angeles Times writer Ernest Hardy criticized the songwriting and called the album "a slickly produced collection of largely generic, meandering songs about self-affirmation in the wake of heartache and romantic disillusionment."

Tuyet Nguyen of The A.V. Club commented that it "engages [Monica's] vocal strengths without ever really challenging them" and stated: "New Life isn’t about broadening horizons so much as it is about realizing a comfortable niche."

Although he found it "beautifully sung and slickly produced", Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe also called the album "numbingly predictable" and commented that Monica "deserves better material than the generic songs she works with here."

Ben Cardew of NME noted "limpness" in its songs and wrote that "there are far too many limp ballads to really excite."

Slant Magazine's Jonathan Keefe found the album "scattered and uneven", and accused Monica's collaborators of disserving her, writing that New Life "squanders Monica's on-point vocal turns on some cliché-addled songs and embarrassingly cheap-sounding production."

However, Allmusic editor Matt Collar found Monica's voice to be "in top form" and complimented her "saucy, spirited, and soulful vibe", writing that it "makes New Life such a refreshing and focused female soul album."

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