The Truth About Brandy And Monica's The Boy Is Mine

Okay, we need to give it up, because we know you've had about enough. Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" is easily one of the most iconic R&B duets ever, but what's the truth behind the tune? The 1998 hit has plenty of accolades to its name and made such an impact that Monica even decided to name her second album after it. Meanwhile, the track came in 18th place on Billboard's All-Time Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs countdown chart when the music company celebrated its 50th anniversary back in 2008.

Appetite for the hit didn't die down in the nineties and noughties, though. In fact, the two singers even recreated the intro to the song for a fun TikTok video in 2021 where they sassily mouthed the words to the spoken word opening before Brandy closed the clip with a click of her fingers. And let us say, it was totally epic. While we all know the song was a huge hit that the world just can't get enough of, there are actually a few things about this duet you may not know.

The boy is non-existent

Fans have wondered for decades just who the boy was that was so special he had Brandy and Monica (musically) at each other's throats. But, at the risk of ruining the magic, we have to tell you that the boy never actually existed. In 2015, Monica told HuffPost Live (via Glamour), "People are still asking, 'Who got the boy?' and there was no boy! We played up the dramatics of it all, but we were 16 and 17. There was no boy, no beef." She added that the whole concept of them acting like they were fighting over a man was initially a savvy marketing exercise. However, it snowballed into their fans believing the drama was real.

Still, Monica claimed it was so manufactured that she'd never even properly met her duet partner before they teamed up on the song, never mind dated the same guy. "We had only really seen each other in passing at awards shows and things, but I had always commended her for her accomplishments," she told Los Angeles Times in 1998. Brandy appeared to be on the same page, telling the outlet that she wanted to use the song to dispel rumors that the two were rivals. She elaborated on the idea in an interview from her late '90s VHS video collection where she insisted that she and Monica were pals. "No matter what anybody says we're going to stay tight," she said.

Was there actual beef between Monica and Brandy?

There may not have been a boy for Brandy and Monica to fight over, but was there any real drama between the two? Well, there are some differing takes on that. In 2019, Dallas Austin — one of the record producers behind the track — claimed the pair once had such heavy beef that tensions boiled over into a physical altercation during an awards show performance in the '90s. "Before they could even get to the stage, Monica decked [Brandy] in the face," he alleged to Vlad TV

Fellow track producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins shared a similar take. In 2007, he suggested to Rap Up that the two had to be separated after almost having a scrap. "What made that song so special is that they really didn't like each other and we took that reality and put it right on record," he claimed.

Brandy herself has also alluded to some potential tension. When she reunited with Monica in 2020 for a "Verzuz" battle (via Entertainment Tonight), the former "Moesha" star told her, "I just need you to know that I have the utmost love and respect for you as well, no matter the times where it seemed like I didn't." As for Monica? She continued to flat-out deny any drama during an interview with HuffPost Live (via Glamour) in 2015. "It's really frustrating," she added. "I am a huge supporter of everyone in the business, especially [Brandy]."

The Jerry Springer connection

Jerry Springer might not be someone you automatically associate with "The Boy Is Mine," but he actually helped to inspire the song. According to Rhino, Brandy was reportedly watching an episode of "The Jerry Springer Show" when the idea for the hit first struck her. Yes, really. The "Have You Ever" singer was apparently feeling inspired while watching an episode about love triangles — so pretty much any episode of the infamous daytime TV show, then. While speaking to HuffPost Live (via Jezebel) in 2015, Monica even confirmed that her duet partner was a huge fan of the trashy talk show. 

However, that's not the only Springer connection. "The Jerry Springer Show" makes an appearance in the song's music video, with Brandy watching an episode cheekily titled, "The Boy Is Mine." Despite her and Monica not being in the same room — or even sharing the same television — they regardless appear to fight over what to watch on TV, with Monica wanting to watch a black and white film instead. Of course, that's not how a TV works, not even in the '90s. Regardless, it provides the perfect set-up for the two to start duking it out over song. Springer would be proud. 

Jessie J and Ariana Grande's lost remake

If there's one thing the entertainment industry loves right now, it's a remake (We're looking at you, Disney). It turns out that in 2014 "The Boy Is Mine" almost got the remake treatment, too. In an interview with Hits Daily Double (via Vibe), Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins claimed that Ariana Grande and Jessie J had been tapped to re-record the duet to celebrate his 20th year in the music business. The legendary music producer explained that the anniversary album would feature cover versions of some of the biggest hits he ever produced. Sam Smith was also reportedly lined up to cover Whitney Houston's juggernaut love-cheat hit, "It's Not Right But It's Okay." 

Sadly, the album never seemed to come to fruition. Jessie J herself appeared to suggest she'd never even been asked to re-record the duet in the first place. "Neither of us have agreed," she told the Mirror on the red carpet at the 2014 American Music Awards, seemingly on behalf of herself and Grande. "Sadly, people are believing it. I spoke to Brandy and I was like, 'No, it's not happening.' Monica and Brandy are the best."

We're sure the Brit and the "Dangerous Woman" hitmaker would have absolutely crushed a re-recording of the iconic hit. But if we're all being honest, there are only two people who could really take on this challenge. It has to be the modern-day version of the alleged Brandy and Monica feud, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. Okurr?

The song is mine

Don't mess with Brandy! Though you may associate "The Boy Is Mine" as being both Brandy and Monica's song, the former wants you to know that it's not hard to see the song is hers. The "I Wanna Be Down" singer co-wrote the hit alongside LaShawn Daniels, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, and Japhe Tejeda, and it was actually initially recorded as a solo track for the star (which leaked online). Per Los Angeles Times, when Brandy and Darkchild listened back to the track, they realized it was better served as a duet. 

Monica was clearly pretty proud of her input on the song, even naming her second album after it. Though it sounds like that wasn't necessarily her idea. Producer Dallas Austin explained to Los Angeles Times in 1998 that it actually came courtesy of Arista Records President Clive Davis, explaining, "We wanted to reflect that it was a duet, not just a song on Brandy's album featuring Monica."

But don't get it confused. Brandy still very much considers herself to have ownership over the duet. Back in 2018, she made that oh so clear during a performance at Essence Festival when she changed the lyrics of the song to reflect that fact. Per Vibe, instead of singing "The boy is mine," the star instead told the crowd, "The song is mine." She also told attendees, "I have to claim what's mine. If I don't have the boy, I have the song." Oop!

Separate recording sessions

Considering "The Boy Is Mine" was initially intended to be a Brandy solo single, it's probably not all too surprising to hear that she and Monica never actually hit the studio together at the same time. Instead, they kept things very much separate and the vocals were blended together through the magic of technology. Songwriter LaShawn Daniels told The Fader that recording each part separately worked for the call and response nature of the track. Even before Monica's vocals had been added to the duet, they had a good feeling about the song. "We knew it was going to be [an] audio-cinematic moment for the audience and we thought that was going to be extremely special."

Still, if Dallas Austin is to be believed, Monica wasn't too keen to add her vocals to the song in the first place. He recalled to Vlad TV, "Monica was like, 'Nope. I'm not doing no song with [Brandy].' I was like, 'C'mon. You got it. It just makes the most sense. Clive [Davis] wants it. Let's just do it,'" he said. Eventually, they did — though he noted that Brandy and Monica were in different places for the recording. As for why Monica wasn't immediately sold on the duet idea? He claimed, "Monica never liked Brandy and Monica was very ghetto when it came down to it." He added that the "Angel Of Mine" singer supposedly thought Brandy was a bit too prim and proper for her.

More chart success

Brandy and Monica saw a whole lot of success with "The Boy Is Mine" when it came to the charts. The track sat at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 13 weeks (!) back in 1998 and stayed on the chart for a whopping 27 weeks, while Billboard's US Dance Singles Sales chart had it at the top spot for a further astonishing 21 weeks. Not only that, but it also hit the number one spot on Billboard's US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for an impressive eight weeks. Not bad, not bad at all. But did you know that the two stars aren't actually the only ones to see chart success from the song?

One of the other biggest versions of the song was actually by "Glee" stars Amber Riley and the late Naya Rivera, who recorded the duet for the Fox show in character as Mercedes Jones and Santana Lopez. Their rendition saw some pretty impressive chart success too, hitting number 76 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart back in 2010.

Another version you may want to take a listen to? The mash-up remix, "The Ladyboy Is Mine." British DJ duo Stuntmasterz were responsible for this one, merging Brandy and Monica's track with Modjo's "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)," and yes, it's just as fabulous as it sounds. The track was actually a pretty big hit in the U.K., reaching number 10 on the country's Official Singles Chart back in 2001.

The track won big

Okay, so we know "The Boys Is Mine" hit the high spots on the charts, but did you also know that it was basically an award magnet? Yep, Brandy and Monica's original version of the sassy duet was also hugely successful on the award show scene, including being nominated for a seriously impressive three Grammy Awards back in the simpler times of 1999. It won in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals but lost out in the Record of the Year and Best R&B Song categories. Judging by footage from the ceremony shared in an episode of "When I Was 17," the twosome didn't seem too bothered by losses and were totally thrilled to take home the gramophone statue. Perhaps a little too thrilled as Brandy excitedly ran ahead of Monica to accept the award, long before her duet partner could make it to the stage. 

The song's fun music video was also a big hit for the duo — and rightly so. The oh-so-'90s visual was nominated at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards for both Best R&B Video and Video of the Year. Unfortunately, they were beaten by Wyclef Jean's "Gone Till November" in the former category and Madonna's "Ray Of Light" in the latter, per UPI.