Youthful expression has always been one of the exciting aspects of entertainment. Children with talent seem to have a certain magic about them that captivates the public and gets the people going. R&B artist Monica is a prime example of when a kid is able to create art that is wise beyond their years.

Hailing from Atlanta, Ga., Monica got the itch for performing as a young girl and cultivated her talent in the church as part of a traveling gospel choir. One fateful show at the Center Stage auditorium in Atlanta would change the course of her life and help put the young singer's career on the map.

Producer Dallas Austin, who helped bring TLC to stardom, saw Monica do a rendition of Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All" and was so impressed that he decided to take her under his wing and sign her to his Arista Records-distributed label, Rowdy Records.

On July 18, 1995, Monica's debut album, Miss Thang, hit shelves to much fanfare and acclaim for her strong vocals and feisty swagger. Peaking at No. 7 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, Miss Thang produced multiple hit singles, including the classic cut, "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," and the double A-Side single, "Before You Walk Out of My Life" and "Why I Love You So Much." Both singles peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, making Monica the youngest artist in history -- she was 14 at the time -- with consecutive No. 1 songs.

Miss Thang was eventually certified triple platinum by the RIAA and made Monica one of the biggest stars in all of R&B, effectively setting the template for what has been an eventful career going on two decades. We rounded up a few friends of The Boombox to wax poetic on this classic album.

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    Andrea Castillo

    Journalist

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album

    "As a self-confessed music nerd from birth growing up in the '90s, I made sure to use Columbia House (R.I.P.) properly. I basically made my mom purchase Miss Thang as one of those 12 CDs for 1 cent that you would get with the service."

    Favorite Songs on the Album

    "I was 9 years old, and didn't know what love was, but I gravitated toward 'Why I Love You So Much.' It was the perfect R&B sound of the time, which was a little mature for Monica at her age, but just a beautiful track."

    Favorite Beats on the Album

    "I love 'Like This and Like That.' At the time, I was more of a hip-hop kid than an R&B, so the flavor of this song was something I could bounce to. Also, excellent vocal arrangements. The hook that goes "I waaaannnttt youuuu...?" Fire flame emojis, before they were a thing."

    What Makes the Album a Classic?

    "In my book, I would call Miss Thang a classic because I believe it really introduced Monica as a voice in R&B to be reckoned with. You have to realize she was 14 years old when the album was released, and even in such young age, her vocal capabilities were quite astonishing, and the content of the songs of the album were, and still are relatable."

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    Suzanne Biello

    Journalist

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album

    "Let's see, Miss Thang came out July of 1995. The summer before my junior year of high school. I worked at a music store named Strawberries in Massachusetts, so I'm pretty sure that's where I picked the album up from. Got to love that employee discount! At 16 years old, I was going through the same things any teenage girl was going through: school, parents not understanding you, catty girls who were your best friend one day and your arch nemesis another and of course... boys, dating, crushes, etc. This album was something relatable for us girls. It spoke to us and was a coming of age tale that any one of us listening could have written."

    Favorite Songs on the Album

    "'Don't Take It Personal,' 'Before You Walk Out of My Life' and 'Why I Love You So Much.' When you're 16, every boy you go out with in high school you think is going to last forever, but it doesn't. These songs helped you understand heartbreak and the different emotions you felt without going to your momma."

    What Makes the Album a Classic?

    "Not sure if I'd call it a classic. Definitely a breakthrough album for her. Don't get me wrong, it's a great piece of work, but I'd have to go with 'The Boy Is Mine' as her classic album. It's much more memorable for me."

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    Vanessa Denis

    Street Reporter for DL Hughley's Syndicated Radio Show

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album

    "When I was a little girl, around the age of 7, I would sneak out of my mother’s room to watch The Box. The Box was how you’d watch music videos if you didn’t have cable. The Box was the best channel for someone who lived for watching videos all day long. One of the music videos I loved to watch was Monica’s 'Before You Walk Out of My Life' and I remember the empathy I felt for Monica after listening to the lyrics of the song. I was invested and I didn’t want that guy to walk out on her either, she learned her mistake. I guess, I’m still invested. It was also the very first video that got me hooked to Monica. Been a fan since the age of 7."

    Favorite Songs on the Album

    “'Miss Thang.' In the 8th grade, my one classmate joked around and called me “Miss Thang.” Monica owned her attitude and sass and did not shy away from the aspect of herself. Women are always told to tone down and not demand any attention to themselves but the song was opposite of that unspoken rule. The song reminded me to love myself and embrace myself, even the feisty side. Dare I say it’s basically one of the original [Nicki Minaj's] 'Feeling Myself.' Yup, I did it. When I finally had the means to buy my own physical copy of the album, I would play 'Miss Thang' over and over again thinking of how that one classmate gave me that as a nickname. On bad days, that song would pull me out of my funk and get me dancing and channeling my own “Miss Thang.” I may be a little dramatic here, but that song and that album has been serious to me. #TeamMonica

    "'Don’t Take It Personal.' When I’m in a funk this song reminds me that I’m not alone. If my feelings are going haywire I put this song on and sing along and it takes the edge off a little bit. Also, the way she belts out the refrain is the best. Her vocal runs always slay!"

    Favorite Beats on the Album

    "I really enjoy the beat for 'Forever Always' because of how much it’s stripped down. It feels whimsical and that’s how it should be when you’re professing your eternal love to someone. I’m still trying to figure why the simplest instrumentation on this album moves me but it does.

    But don't get me wrong, I can sing along to every single lyric and vocal run on this album. Top to bottom, in one sitting."

    What Makes the Album a Classic?

    The album was full of so much sass, the female perspective and Monica’s signature vocal runs at the age of 15! Those are some of the things that make it great and timeless. I enjoyed the many narratives Monica provided on the album, there was dimensions to the album. The album didn’t just have songs about being a sad and brokenhearted woman, there were different perspectives that us women feel and experience. I really appreciate that. There wasn’t any Auto-Tune or extra layers of production to cover up her voice on Miss Thang that would date the sound. Monica wasn’t chasing any trends. I swear Dallas Austin & Monica just made magic happen when they teamed up for the first album. I get excited every time I think of Monica dropping a new album because she still sings the same and makes me feel the same way Miss Thang has been able to make me feels throughout my formative years. Can I just say that I cannot wait for Code Red!? I can't."

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    Elena Bergeron

    Senior Editor, SB Nation

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album

    "Just remember hearing 'Don't Take It Personal' on the radio while being driven some place by my parents and really loving it, much more so than the rest of what was cycling through the Q93's rotation around that time. You've got to remember that was an era where Brandy's "Baby" ("don't you know that you're so fiiiiiiiiine?") and Xscape and R. Kelly and Aaliyah had every middle schooler singing way too grown lyrics. But Monica had me calling in the Hot 8 at 8 to try to win tickets to whatever kiddie R&B tour she was on because her voice had that Gladys Knight-grown-woman thing happening that it seemed like all the others were trying to effect.

    I love all the R&B that came out around then but looking at the videos of Xscape (in baggy men's suits) and TLC (in baggy men's jeans) and Aaliyah (in baggy hockey jerseys) there was a lot of costuming and posturing going on that I was just not cool enough to pull off. Looking back on it now, it actually makes all of them look much younger, though the goal at the time was too look super grown up. In her video, Monica was fully owning the turtlenecks and pixie cut but more than that, she was just singing about basic teenagery angst which just sounded like grown ass music because of her voice. The album's title only confirmed it for me. Miss Thang. Monica made music for every girl who has ever been slapped in the mouth by their mama for being "too grown." More often than not, I got that slap not for the actual text of what I said but for the tone/delivery. That's what stood out to me about Monica. She made puppy love quarrels sound like grown folks BI."

    Favorite Songs on the Album

    "'Don't Take It Personal' and 'Why I Love You So Much.' At the end of that one she was basically singing like Denise Lasalle but as a 15-year-old."

    Favorite Beats on the Album

    "'Like This and Like That.' It was her 'for the jeeps' song."

    What Makes This Album a Classic?

    "It was just a defining mission statement for her. She was a normal, black teenage girl who could SANG. And wear the hell out of some dark lipstick."

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    Eb the Celeb

    Digital Strategist

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album

    "I literally used to spend my entire allowance in high school just to get a new CD and Miss Thang was definitely an album that I went a week without getting pizza at lunch for. Monica just reminded me so much of myself. Skinny as hell and short hair don't care and her voice was so soulful yet sassy for her age and I definitely was a sassy something in middle and high school."

    Favorite Songs on the Album

    "Before You Walk Out of My Life' and 'Why I Love You So Much' are my fave tracks on this album. I remember being in my room and blasting both acting like I could sing. As a teen, love comes and goes so fast and you don't even really understand what is and isn't love and both tracks reflected just the most simplest aspects of love."

    Favorite Beats on the Album

    "'Don't Take It Personal' was definitely the best beat on the album. It was so hip-hop but Monica was crooning over it. And she carried the record herself without a rap feature thats how you know it was fire."

    What Makes This Album a Classic?

    "This album was classic because it evoked so many emotions. The uptempo and the ballads both hit you in a special place. You could relate to every scenario no matter how young or old you were."

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