The R&B great talks about how the Internet has given several new spins to what she calls one of the most important records of her life.
Earlier this month, amateur and professional artists alike hopped on the beat to Monica’s iconic “So Gone” and participated the #SoGoneChallenge. On August 10, Chance The Rapper joined in and posted his own take on Twitter and the challenge really took off. In the clip, he raps sweetly to his girlfriend and mother of his daughter, She complains about the baby weight but I ain’t panic.
After seeing Chance’s rendition, Monica and Missy Elliott were blown away but the R&B icons were quite surprised by the regeneration of what could now be considered to a classic. A few days later, Monica and Missy Elliott finally met up to record their own fun version of the #SoGoneChallenge which got lots of love from the Internet.
The FADER spoke on the phone with Monica this week from Atlanta,and she said that she was overjoyed with the response. “At first, I didn’t understand it at all as far as what happens when challenges start,” she said. “But I absolutely fell in love with seeing people of all races and genres, male or female, and couples take it and put their own spin on it. It was one of the most important records in my life.”
She talked about the what inspired the original song, how she had to convince Missy Elliott to make the video, and why she loved Chance The Rapper’s version so much.
What did you think when you first saw that the #SoGoneChallenge was a going viral?
MONICA: The first time that I actually found out about it, Missy [Elliott] called me and woke up me up the morning after Chance The Rapper posted his. I started looking around and poking around on the web and I found this dope young lady in Houston that had rapped over it like four months ago and talking about my influence in her life. Just an overwhelming amount of information that put a smile on my face. Chance’s was so special because the feeling that he gave to the mother of his child while he was creating the rap was something that was infectious. Too many men now are afraid of what they feel for the person that they love. The women that bear their children are no longer getting the amount of respect that they should. So, Chance made it really special in a couple of different waysI’m an artist but everything that knows me knows that I’m a mom first. So I loved everything about it.
It’s been really exciting. I’ve just been overwhelmed with the amount of love that a whole different generation has given. Some of them weren’t even born when the original dropped and so I’ve just been extremely grateful.
You said Missy called you to tell you about it. What was her reaction to the “So Gone” challenge?
She was excited. There are pros and cons to social media and media period but you have to give credit where it’s due. It does make it easy for things to travel but the downside is it could be good or bad things that are traveling. For her, she had the chance to experience coming out on stage at the Super Bowl and reminding people that she’s a real innovator. She experienced it and said to me, “You supported people along the way and you’ve been riding for other people.” My page is mainly my kids and me supporting others so she was like, “Knowing that’s who you are, it’s why you deserve what’s happening. This is introducing a whole other group of people to you.”
When you first recorded the song in 2003, what were you inspired by?
Missy [Elliott] is the executive producer of that album and I was talking to her about everything that I was going through at the time. I had come out of a difficult situation and I was very focused on talking about my life after the pain, which is why we named it After The Storm. I had witnessed a suicide, I lost my grandmother and my cousin all in the same year. I didn’t put out any new music and I was unsure if music was a place that I wanted to remain. It was the first time that I had people telling stories and things not being true and I hadn’t experienced it on that level yet. What people often forget is that I recorded it my first song at 12 years old. There was no Internet and the things that we’re faced with now weren’t there. So, everything about After The Storm was about my life after the hardship. This album came when I felt whole enough to make a record. “So Gone” was actually created because [Missy Elliott] kept the microphone on and overheard my phone conversations. After my phone conversation she created this song, which is another testament to how genius she really is.
People are both singing and rapping on their #SoGoneChallenge videos. Why’d you decide to rap as well as sing on “So Gone?”
It started as a joke though. It started with Missy saying, “Yo, you gonna rap like a singer.” She would always tell me and that I had the mind shape and the aggression of a rapper. She was like, “Even when you’re recording and when you say things, you know it’s authentic. It’s real. That to me is what makes a great rapper.” We would play around and I would rap things to her and she would be like, “You’re rapping on this song though. Trust that.” We kept in joke form until it was time to record “So Gone,” and from then on she kept that in a lot of the records she produced for me.
What do you think it is about “So Gone” that’s inspired all of these people to make videos and be so creative with them?
I think because everybody’s had a “So Gone” moment. I watched one young lady’s video and she took the idea of being “So Gone” as allowing people to misuse her and had people in her life that didn’t deserve to be there and now she’s finding herself. Everybody has their own spin on it but I think the part that connects the song is you can hear me singing through my own pain. So, that’s something that resonates with your everyday person because it’s not going to always be perfect everyday. I was learning everything that I needed to learn while working with one of the greatest producers of our time but a sister first. When me and Missy are working on music, we’re not looking at times, clocks, and who said we should be in a certain place. We did things on our own terms and talked about life and what was happening. That’s what makes it special. Nobody was controlling it but us and our true emotions.
Do you think that level of authenticity about is channeled into this challenge for people?
Absolutely because people are talking about everything. Look at Chance’s challenge, it doesn’t get more authentic and loving and compassionate than that. It’s one of those things that you can see in the young lady I posted today, is her challenge sounds amazing—her name is Amber. When you go on her page and you see that she handles praise and worship and all of the other things. The challenge is only, maybe one minute long per person and you learn a lot. I look at the ones that I reposted and shared because they meant a lot to me too.
So about your So Gone Challenge…
[Laughs] Listen, Missy was not going to do that. She was like, “This is a classic and we are not touching classic records around here.” Her accent got real thick when she told me no. I’m like check this out, I have an 11, an 8 and a 2 year old in the house and the reality is that, the original version we would never touch and call ourselves rerecording. There’s no remix to what was happening during After The Storm, not at all. I said, “But I want them to know that they feel where I’m coming from and where I was coming from in 2003 has not changed in 2016. I’m still learning and going through things — tying to get it right and keep it right just in life, period. She was like, “I don’t know, let me think about it.”
So, I stayed on her all night and the next day I pretty much invited myself over, which I do all the time, just to check on her because outside of music that’s my sister, period. So, I’m like, “We coming over and you’re going to help me create this challenge because we got more to say.” That’s why I started off with “Remember that.” I take you back to the old me. Yeah, I used to get down and I felt like I had to defend everything around me and then I progressed into a funny mention of my husband, “Get your own, leave mine alone.” Just fun and light hearted. Nothing deep or dramatic but just me talking about where I was versus where I am and also showing my gratitude in the verse too but it really was something that I could not have prepared for. I just woke up one morning and things were changing because another artist decided to show me some respect while showing their mate some love and respect. It kind of just went hand in hand so after we did it I was like, “I got somebody that can record it. We can make our own video.”
The mural that we’re in front of us is actually in the studio where I recorded, “Everything to Me” and a million other records.I always loved that picture of her. I’m like, “We’re about to shoot our own video right in front of your mural because this is also me paying respect to you. People often times forget people who put them in certain positions.” It was my little subtle messages in lots of different ways and she’s in the back…
She’s being lowkey.
Yes! And that’s very her. That’s the truest representation of her. She is thee shyest person that I know, so she’s in the back like, “I’m gonna hold you down and you get up there and do your thing.” It just came out so fun. I was able to say some important things.
You were in the studio with her are you two working on anything that’s going to come out soon?
I went over to talk about some new stuff. She and I are always in contact anyway. So, I’m thinking, “We’re going to have a challenge and we’re going to have fun.” But the main objective is always to start working on whatever else we want to create. We were already talking and spending time. We’re always working. We do it differently because we really love it and we come from the era where we don’t schedule it and plan it.