Fans of Brandy and Monica have been reeling ever since their record-breaking Verzuz battle in August, as well as the release of some new music between the two. Brandy released her latest album B7 this past July, her first album since 2012’s Two Eleven. Monica has also released a new single Trenches, off the upcoming album of the same name. While fans are still living in nostalgia from their “battle” (or celebration, rather), some are being reminded why the two may have had some issues all these years.
For years the hit-making artists have been surrounded by rumors of contention between the two. Over the years, neither have denied that they didn’t have the great of relationships, however, they have always proclaimed mutual respect for one another. Both artists were amongst some of the biggest names in music in the 90s, reigning in top-selling albums and singles.
Their sophomore eras would bring the massive hit that was “The Boy Is Mine”, a spin on the rumors swirling that the two did not like one another. The duet spent 13 weeks at the #1 spot and also gained them the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1999, the only Grammy for both singers.
The song would be performed live for the first time on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, however only one party was present: Brandy. The Never Say Never singer performed the song without Monica, bringing on claims that she was upset. However, the two performed the song for the first time together on the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
For years, rumors circulated that the two fought at the award show prior to their performance. Management for the artists released a joint statement in attempts to debunk the rumors at the time. The statement read, in part: “Brandy and Monica spent substantial time together at last week’s MTV Awards — they did interviews together, had their picture taken together, had adjoining dressing rooms, sat together at the show, and held hands and prayed together prior to going on stage to perform.”
However, recently some of their closest producers have come forward with some recollections of their own pertaining to their fight. Dallas Austin, one of Monica’s main contributors, interviewed with VladTV to tell all. He revealed that Monica wasn’t down to be a part of the duet from the beginning, originally feeling that Brandy’s image was too “goodie two shoes” while she had more of a street appeal, and had to convince her. The two eventually recorded the song separately and shot the music video. It was at the American Music Awards (according to Austin, but many believe it was the VMAs as they performed there) where things took a turn for the worse.
“The first time they actually saw each other [in person], I think it was the American Music Awards or something, and before they could actually get to the stage Monica decked [Brandy] in the face backstage,” Austin says. “I went ‘oh my God!’ This is before the performance so everybody’s [trying to] figure out how we’re going to have a performance that looks like they’re not at war with each other.”
He explained that it worked saying, “It worked out because they were supposed to be at war with each other, so nobody could really tell that [Monica] had punched [Brandy] in the face before the performance.” The producer added, “They just never really liked each other in the first place.”
Rodney Jerkins, who produced a hefty chunk of Brandy’s work, as well as records for Monica, spoke on their rumored beef as well, confirming Austin’s report as well. In a 2007 interview with RapUp he shared his experience with the artists during that process. “I think what made that song so special is that they really didn’t like each other and we took that reality and put it right on record,” he said. “They almost got into a fight, so I had to remove them from each other. It was reality TV before it happened.”
Jerkins also had a recent interview with VladTV where he confirms Austin’s account and recounted more of his experiences while explaining that competitiveness played a role as well as the media. “It’s just cattiness,” he says. “When you’re young, you have to remember Brandy was 14 or 15 and Monica was like 13 or 14 when they both came out with their first singles. You can imagine their camps – I don’t think it was necessarily them at the time, it was their camps fueling it like, ‘You’re better than her’…and they started feeding into it.”
“[They are competitive] and if you don’t really like each other, you can probably call a truce and say, ‘Yeah, OK we did that,’ but we will still be competitive,” he continued.
It seems as though bygones are bygones and the past has been left in the past as the two came together and successfully celebrated their catalogs at the Verzuz battle. No release date for Monica’s newest album has been given as of yet, but fans are surely on the lookout.