Rodney Jerkins Speaks on Witnessing Tension Between Brandy and Monica During Recording of ‘The Boy Is Mine’
The road to friendship for Brandy and Monica was a long one. The two notoriously feuded, and even came to blows, throughout the nearly two-decade rivalry. Producer Rodney Jerkins says the tension between the two was so thick that it made the recording process for their musical collaboration “The Boy Is Mine” uncomfortable.
Rodney Jerkins speaks on witnessing Brandy and Monica’s tension
Jerkins produced the majority of Brandy’s musical catalog, starting with what he says is nearly 80% of her sophomore album, Never Say Never. Among the songs he produced for Never Say Never, Jerkins produced Brandy’s vocals for her 1998 duet with Monica. The song, “The Boy Is Mine,” would go on to spend 13 weeks at the top of the Billboard chart and win the singers their first and only Grammy.
At the time of their collaboration, Brandy and Monica were not friends. There were constant rumors of the two having a feud, but both denied such. Brandy felt the song would be a good way to bring the two of them together.
Monica was not initially on board to do the song. According to producer Dallas Austin, Monica disliked Brandy because of Brandy’s squeaky clean image. Jerkins tells Vlad TV that the beef between Brandy and Monica was very real.
“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.”
Jerkins also cites the differences in their images, sounds, and also having similar goals of wanting to be at the top of their game for their feud. Once “The Boy Is Mine” was released and fans and media continued to pit them against one another, Jerkins says their feud only intensified.
Rodney Jerkins says Brandy and Monica’s competitiveness was the root of their feud
The recording process for “The Boy Is Mine” was also strange. Jerkins says the two women did not record together and did so separately. He initially produced Monica’s vocals, but she was unsatisfied with the results. She believed Jerkins’ production made her sound too much like what he did for Brandy. She had Austin re-produce her vocals and send Jerkins the final to edit.
Brandy and Monica’s feud eventually turned physical, with Monica punching her backstage before performing at the MTV Video Music Awards. Jerkins was not present for the fight but confirms it did happen as he heard such from peers.
In addition to their competitiveness, Jerkins says Brandy and Monica’s egos and got in the way of the two of them becoming friends.
“[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 says.
Despite such, Jerkins is happy with the status of Brandy and Monica’s relationship today, explaining that he’s proud of the success from their ‘Verzuz’ battle.