Victoria Monét is known throughout the industry for her songwriting skills, the brains behind hits for Ariana Grande, BLACKPINK, Chloe x Halle, and many more.
“I moved to LA to pursue artistry and just all of the things that I dreamed for myself, and life takes you in different turns, so I ended up songwriting a lot more than recording my own music,” she tells Apple Music.
Although the Sacramento native spent most of her career writing, she still released music independently with her 2014 and 2018 EP series Nightmares & Lullabies and Life After Love, but it wasn’t until 2020’s JAGUAR that Monét came into her own as an artist of the same stature as the ones she’d worked for.
Named after the fierce jungle cat—known for lurking undetected until they’re ready to pounce—the project introduced a motif that Monét created to show her transition from illustrious songwriter to full-fledged R&B star. “JAGUAR I and II are relatives, but you see, JAGUAR II is an older, more developed, voluptuous older sister,” she says. “I just really wanted to make it in my eyes better than JAGUAR I, which I feel like I’ve done.” Co-produced by longtime collaborator D’Mile, JAGUAR II is a seamless continuation enlisting live musicians and delving further into the psychedelic sounds of the 1970s—an era that influenced and inspired both albums.
Still, Monét takes it further by guiding listeners through different soundscapes of funk, pop, R&B, and reggae while capturing the different moods she wanted to create. Instead of songs about her experiences as a new mom and being in love, Monét decided to showcase the full spectrum of emotions that women feel, whether she’s singing about her affinity for cannabis on the Lucky Daye-assisted “Smoke,” being outside on the flirty party anthem “Party Girls,” or women’s empowerment on “Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem).”
“I’m trying to listen to it from a fan’s perspective, and I would think that people would be like, oh, she’s going to talk about just being completely in love and wanting to get married and having kids, this white-picket-fence life,” she says. “And it’s not that I feel like even making the album with my relationship, I had the freedom to discuss things that I may not feel currently, but they came up in the making of this album, even though I’m not necessarily in that mindset right now.”
On the swaggering “On My Mama,” Monét adds some Southern twang, interpolating Texas rapper Chalie Boy’s 2009 track “I Look Good” for an infectious hook that makes it a soundtrack to positive affirmations about not just looking good but feeling good as well, while the follow-up “I’m the One” continues that cocky persona over a pop-leaning track.
Monét reflects on her stardom on the retro track “Hollywood,” which features legendary funk group Earth, Wind & Fire and her daughter Hazel. “Philip Bailey came in and did his vocals, but then Verdine came in on a different day to play the bass,” she explains. “Just knowing that I’m inspired by them so much from the inception of JAGUAR to have them on it as an exclamation point for JAGUAR II, it just means so much.”