We last heard from Monie on her 1990 debut album Down To Earth, which created quite a buzz for the London bred emcee, largely due to, not one, but two, Grammy nominated singles. I’m still surprised that even with the two hit singles, Down To Earth didn’t earn Monie a gold plaque. Regardless, she would return in 1993 with her second album, In a Word Or 2.
For In a Word Or 2, Monie would trim down the number of hands involved on the production side of things, bringing in Juice crew founder and producer, Marley Marl to handle the bulk of the production duties (and one very special guest brought in to provide the musical canvas for two songs…more on that later). Even with Marley Marl’s involvement, In a Word Or 2 received mix reviews and didn’t sell nearly as well as Down To Earth.
In a Word Or 2 would be the last album from Monie Love, as she would go on to focus on motherhood and other endeavors, and currently hosts her own show on Shade 45 on SiriusXM radio. And somehow the girl went from being a cutie in her twenties to a hottie in her forties. Fountain of youth mucher.
Wheel Of Fortune – Monie Love opens In a Word Or 2 in search of Mr. Right, and tries her luck at love on the proverbial “wheel of fortune”, which is also a reference to the longest running syndicated game show in America (and quickly approaching 60, Vanna’s age is starting to show, folks). After four unsuccessful spins, Monie, tongue in cheek, says she’ll try her luck on the Love Connection (how many of you remember that game show? I wonder what Chuck Woolery’s doing these days). Monie’s rhymes are cute, but Marley’s instrumental is as plain as water.
Greasy – Over a mediocre Marley instrumental, Monie shares three different stories of dudes who went of ashy to classy. Not a fan of this one.
Sex U All – On this one, Monie’s all fired up after getting a phone call from another chick who claims Monie’s banging her man and threatens to send her crew to beat Monie down with baseball bats if it continues. Monie then spends the next three verses checking the chick and the man that’s trying to play her, or as she calls, she’s getting “sex u all”, which apparently is slang for handling things the right way (weird mucher, but I’ll roll with it). Marley’s frantic paced backdrop fits well behind Monie’s aggressive rhymes. Despite the nonsensical hook and song title, this one was decent.
Mo’ Monie – Over a decent low-key backdrop, Monie’s in battle mode, firing shots at those with ghost writers (“a plus will be given, if correct is how you’re livin’, and the rhymes you recite are yours, not given”), and it sounds like she may have fired a shot at Das EFX on the second verse (“it’s a bore to the brain, diggity, diggity, diggity, shut the hell up, I can’t understand a word your saying”). Overall, this was pretty dope.
I’m A Believer – Monie uses this one to encourage the listener to believe in his or her self. Unfortunately, Monie’s message falls flat, thanks largely to the instrumental behind her that is impossible to believe in.(That what almost a tongue twister.
Let A Woman Be A Woman – Monie male bashes over a mediocre Marley mash-up (hey, that was almost a tongue twister!). I’m not a fan of this one, but I’m still curious on who’s she’s calling a “little Chuck D wannabe” on the final first.
Full Term Love – Over a signature Marley Marl r&b flavored hip-hop instrumental, that sounds similar to his work on LL’s “Around The Way Girl” (which Monie actually references in her last verse), Monie’s in search of an everlasting love (you better find Jesus, girl!). Some true heads may find this song too soft, but every now and then I can enjoy a r&b/hip-hop concoction when mixed together properly. This one sounds fresh and goes down smooth. Side note: this song was first released as a single on the soundtrack for the incredibly cheesy Kid N Play movie, Class Act.
Born 2 B.R.E.E.D. – This was the first single from In a Word Or 2. The late great Minnesota grown Prince, provides a clean, smooth and slightly r&b tinged backdrop (with a co-production credit going to Steve “Silk” Hurley) for Monie to spit over. At first glance, the whole Monie Love/Prince collaboration seems kind of strange, but makes more sense considering they were both signed to Warner Brothers at the time. Despite the ridiculous acronym in the song title (Build Relationships where Education and Enlightenment Dominate), which only rivals the corniest of 2pac’s acronym for “nigga” (Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished…but at least each letter in Pac’s acronym is accounted for. What’s up with the “W” for “where”, Monie?), this ode to motherhood is pretty nice.
In A Word Or 2 – Prince gets his second production credit of the evening, as he provides a soft mid-tempo instrumental for Monie to display her love and affection to the one she loves. For some reason Monie raps in a whispering voice that sounds beaucoup awkward. But her whisper is a lot more tolerable than the cheesy Prince backdrop and corny reggae chant and hook. This is a perfect example of bad rap and r&b.
There’s A Better Way – Marley hooks up a smooth jazzy instrumental that Monie uses to reminisce over a former crush that got away and ends up with HIV. Monie’s storyline may have some holes in it, but she leaves you with a bit to think about. I like this one.
4 Da Children – Before Trick Daddy, Monie, um, loved the kids, and she sends this one out to the youth. Not one of the strongest songs on In a Word Or 2, but it’s passable.
Born 2 B.R.E.E.D. (Hip-Hop Mix) – Marley Marl hooks a bouncy remix for the lead single. Marley’s jazzy horns help turn this into a pretty solid remix, but I still prefer Prince’s backdrop to this one.
I kind of beat up Monie’s emcee skills on Down To Earth (read my opinion on it here). After listening to In a Word Or 2 several times over the past week, I think I was too hard on her. Monie doesn’t possess the lyrical prowess of a Lauren Hill (who is the goat of female emcees, and has a slot in my top twenty of all time, man or woman), or the commanding voice of a MC Lyte or Lady Of Rage. But she proves on In a Word Or 2 that she can rhyme, and unlike most female emcees past and present, she actually penned her own shit, and that alone should count for something. Because she doesn’t have the sharpest rhymes or sickest rap voice, the production behind her becomes even more crucial, and unfortunately Marley Marl’s lackluster production doesn’t give In a Word Or 2 the sonic lift required to make the songs memorable.
I’ll sum up the album’s downfall in a word a or two: Marley’s fault.