Vanessa Jones
July 18, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

For the long-gestating album (unauthorized leaks forced a rejiggering of the set), the former teen belter calls in superproducer Missy Elliott to tart things up with a trio of streetwise party anthems (”So Gone,” ”Knock Knock,” ”Get It Off”). Otherwise, in between are bland ballads and derivative midtempo tunes that often fail to match the creative heights of Monica’s lush, church-trained voice. Only on a four-track bonus CD do vocals and music achieve equal footing as the singer moves beyond hackneyed beats to explore gospel, hip-hop, and quiet-storm grooves.

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