Photo Source: Google Images - Mona Lisa duel album covers
June 11th 1996 Mona Lisa released her debut 11-20-79
As I continue with my series of great albums of 1996, this album that I am featuring on this post is probably in my top 10 of my top 100 favorite albums. I promise I will treat you all to that list one day soon, I have been mentally creating that list forever, as old albums stay the same, new albums come out so stay tuned. Anyway this album featured on today's post is an album that I still play on a regular basis to this day.
Movie soundtracks was big in the 90s, sometimes even bigger than regular albums, the Wayans brothers had this hilarious move called "Don't be a menace while drinking your juice in south central" a spoof on all the hood classic films in the 90s. The soundtrack was even better, R&B singer Joe had one of the biggest hits that helped him become name in R&B. He had a song called "All The Things" a song that is a favorite on classic slow jams.
There was a rare gem on that album from a young up and coming artist at the time, sixteen year old Kimberly Leadbetter aka Mona Lisa. She had a song on the soundtrack called "Can't Be Wasting My Time" featuring The Lost Boyz. Mona Lisa came out during the height of teen queen era in R&B which consisted of the late Aaliyah, Brandy, Monica, and pre Mya.
Mona Lisa fit right into that niche and on June 11th 1996 she released her debut album called 11-20-79, this album is pure R&B from beginning to end. The lead track "Sweet Memories" chimes in and also features a sample from my one of favorite Nas songs called "Represent" off his debut album Illmatic, that came out two years prior.
11-20-79 flowed very well into the second track "Just Wanna Please U" and then uptempo "Where I Wanna Be" comes next, and then "Love U Enough, I'm Not Your Girl, Keep Falling" and my all time favorite off the album. "You Said" If there was a such thing as a childhood soundtrack this track is definitely on there.
You said was the second single off the album, and the video tugs at the heart strings, in the video Mona goes off to find her father against her mother wishes of course. And through out the video they miss each other and then finally at end father and daughter meets up. This song was released as a single when I graduated from grade school.
And the night after I graduated my father who I didn't have the best relationship with, but I loved and appreciated him very much. That night he talked to me about life, education etc, a year later in 97 my father passed away. So when I say I love You Said I mean it, if my life was a film, that conversation with my father on my porch, You said would have been playing in the background. So If I am playing that song that means my father is on my mind.
A little side track there, but an important note to what this album means to me. The second half of this album goes in another song that I like to play when I think of my mom. "You Gave Me Love" A song Mona dedicated to her mother. The next song "Crazy" could have been the song for a every broken hearted teenage girl across the world. My sister played that song like it was going out of style, anytime I put Mona in the deck, we had to hear crazy first.
To finish off the album was of course the lead single "Can't Be Wasting My Time, You keep leading me on and Our time to shine" which also has a remix version from the Don't Be a Menace SDTK feat Lil Kim. This album was well produced, featuring production from Clark Kent, Butt Naked Tim Dog, also what set Mona apart of from her teen counterparts is that she co wrote on this album.
Not often quite heard from upcoming artists under the age 21 in the industry, vocally Mona Lisa is no joke as I like to say that girl could sang her face off. And on this project that is what she exactly did and that was sang her face off. From the first song to the last song, the girl showed you her range and what she could do. I knew at that time well I thought she was going to become a house hold name, she did a guest appearance on nickelodeon show Keenan & Kel.
Mona Lisa released one more single off her album which was the remix to "Just Wanna Please U" produced by the infamous reality star Stevie J feat The Lox in 1997. That was the last song and video from 11-20-79. For the rest of 97 and 98 Mona Lisa laid low, well she did have a song on theWoo SDTK but it didn't make a buzz. In 1999 she had a song called peach which was suppose to be on her second album that was suppose to come out that same year.
The album never came out and no sight or sound from Mona Lisa, she resurfaced on rapper Cam'ron song "Girls" and that was pretty much it. In 2007 during the early days of Facebook, I had a chance to chat with Mona Lisa and I asked her where have you been? she chuckled and said I went behind the scenes and wrote for other artist and working on a deal to make a comeback.
That was nine years ago, I still wait patiently for a follow up to 11-20-79 to happen and you never know it may happen. Quite often in the music industry there are artists who are super talented that get over looked. Mona Lisa was one of those artists, her debut album was a magnum opus to what should have been one hell of a career.
Check Out Single below: Can't Be Wasting My Time, You Said, Just Wanna Please U remix, Our Time To Shine Remix
All videos from Youtube