THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Raising the flag for over-30 R&B lovers
Monica named her new album “Code Red” (RCA) because she sees the R&B that she loved in a state of emergency.
The multiplatinum artist, who has topped the R&B charts with songs in the past three decades, worries, “What am I gonna sing to?” in the album’s mission statement “I Miss Music.” “I miss Stevie,” she sings over a simple acoustic guitars. “I wonder will things be the same. I miss music.”
She then spends the rest of “Code Red” looking to give people something new to sing to. And that doesn’t mean just old-school soul.
The title track features a hot beat from producer Polow Da Don and some great verses from Missy Elliott. The first single, “Just Right for Me,” transforms a sample from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “Much Better Off” into a modern groove that Monica and Lil Wayne can ride.
“Saints & Sinners” calls to mind the kind of pop-leaning soul that made Monica a crossover chart-topper in the late ’90s with songs like “For You I Will.” “Code Red” shows how well things work when you make the kind of music you want to hear.