Each was a recording artist in her own right, both ended up scoring their biggest hit of either of their careers when they teamed up for a single, and yet to this day most people think of the song and wonder, “Were Brandy and Monica really fighting over a boy when they recorded ‘The Boy is Mine’?”
It's a fair question, and we’ll get to that, but first let’s just take a look at the songwriting credits for this classic ‘90s R&B track: it took four people – Brandy, LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, and Fred Jerkins III – to take this tune and turn it into a hit. That’s no small number of folks, but it’s no small hit, either. After all, not only was it the best-selling song of 1998, selling 2.6 million copies, but it also ended up winning the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group (plus earning nominations for Record of the Year and Best R&B Song) and took home a trio of Billboard Music Awards.
What’s crazy, though, is that the song wasn’t even going to be a duet…like, to the point where it was pretty much done before Brandy ever decided that it could use a little bit of Monica.
In a 2012 interview with Complex, Brandy went into detail about the origins of the collaboration. “At that time we hadn’t really met and we hadn’t really known each other at all, but people were putting us against each other, they were making us into a rivalry, (and) this was the perfect song to continue that,” said Brandy. “It just made sense, because people already thought we didn’t like each other, so we had this song and it was the perfect song to keep that going. She got on the song, she did so good, and she just made the song what it needed to be.”
The only problem: the attempt to create the illusion of a rivalry between the two singers proved a little too successful.
“People still send me tweets today, (and) I’m sure Monica will tell you the same thing: ‘So whose boy was it?’” Brandy told Complex.com. “People really buy into that stuff. But we never were really fighting over a boy. We didn’t even know each other to not like each other.” Still, the rumors ran rampant, to the point where, after performing together on the MTV Video Music Awards, a joint statement dismissed bad blood. "Brandy and Monica did interviews together, had their picture taken together, had adjoining dressing rooms, sat together at the show, and held hands and prayed together prior to going on stage to perform," it read.
Since the initial success of “The Boy is Mine,” Brandy and Monica have managed to reunite on a couple of occasions to belt out the number – first in 2008, then again in 2012, with both instances taking place in conjunction with Atlanta radio station V-103’s Soul Session concert series – and then in 2020 they went at it again for a Verzuz battle (speaking candidly about the supposed feud).