Still Standing

Still Standing

Monica is both youthful and mature, traditionalist and innovative, poised and emotional. The title song with Ludacris is a groaning slice of club rap that Monica repossesses for her own. “One In a Lifetime” and “Mirror” reflect recent trends in hip-hop production, and the singer fares particularly well on “Here I Am,” a slow-burning modernistic track by Polow Da Don — a producer who spans the spheres of rap and R&B. As much as she is a singer unafraid to face the future, Monica will always be a savior to traditional R&B maestros like Ne-Yo and Jermaine Dupri, as proven by “Stay or Go” and the deliriously sultry “Love All Over Me.” Monica’s longtime collaborator Missy Elliott contributes two tracks in the form of “Everything to Me” and “If You Were My Man.” The first song samples Deniece Williams’ 1981 single “Silly,” while the latter recreates Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “Betcha She Don’t Love You,” from 1982. These are telling references points: Still Standing continues a tradition started by those Quiet Storm songstresses, who, like Monica, show that the R&B field is led by women who are at once elegant, intelligent, and mature.

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