Victoria Monét supporting Ariana Grande on her 'Dangerous Woman Tour'Emma / Flickr

Starting her career as a prolific songwriter, penning countless hits for artists like Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony, Victoria Monét has truly come into her own with the release of her debut album JAGUAR II. Underrated is an adjective that is often thrown around when discussing certain musicians and their discographies but, for someone who was often only mentioned in association with other artists, there is truly no better word to use.

JAGUAR II follows from Monét’s 2020 EP JAGUAR, a sultry project embracing themes of empowered sensuality. Both lyrically and sonically, this album continues in a similar vein, drawing inspiration from classic R&B and 70s soul.

“The lyrics of ‘Alright’ are laced with innuendos and are an ode to Monét’s sense of empowerment”

The opening track ‘Smoke’, featuring fellow R&B artist Lucky Daye, incorporates a bouncy funk style, with Monét singing about carefree moments smoking with friends. The track’s laid-back, witty lyrics (“Lucky and V Monét/Sound like a lucky date/Roll up and let it play/This that shit you smoke to”) blend seamlessly with a wavy bassline and horn arrangement to produce the jocular atmosphere that pervades the album.

On the next track, ‘Smoke (Reprise)’, the production is stripped back to focus on an acoustic arrangement and drum pattern. Lyrically, it mirrors the themes of its predecessor (“Let’s end this night on a high note/You go in then I’ll blow”). However, sonically, the emphasis is shifted onto Monét’s breathy vocals, creating a more intimate atmosphere. This track then seamlessly transitions into ‘Party Girls’ featuring reggae dancehall artist Buju Banton, which introduces a Caribbean-infused twist that adds variety to the record.

A duo of empowering tracks follows: ‘Alright’ (produced by the renowned Kaytranada) and ‘Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem)’. The lyrics of ‘Alright’ are laced with innuendos and are an ode to Monét’s sense of empowerment, evident particularly within the chorus (“Gon’ be on my shit tonight/No one on my hip tonight”). Conversely, ‘Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem)’ sticks to Monét’s traditional mid-tempo R&B sound without breaking new ground. It has its moments – the lyrics in the second verse are especially well-crafted – but it does not stand out the way ‘Party Girls’ or ‘Alright’ do.

“A 70s soul track, ‘Stop (Askin’ Me 4Shyt)’, is as hilarious as it is sonically pleasing”

‘How Does It Make You Feel’, a shimmering mid-tempo song with a lush string arrangement, emerges as the album’s strongest track. Centring around Monét asking her lover how it feels knowing she is so deeply infatuated with them, the song showcases Monét’s lyrical prowess through clever double entendres (“Just like the sand, I’ll always be for shore”) and smooth vocal accents within the chorus and bridge.

This high continues with the triumphant horn-laden track ‘On My Mama’, which Monét described to DORK as “the soundtrack to positive affirmations … Give yourself the words you need to hear because it’s true – you look good!” The song has the catchiest chorus on the entire album with an upbeat earworm of a hook (“I put that on my own mama, on my hood/I look fly, I look good”).

‘I’m The One’ takes a pensive turn, with Monét ruminating on how a potential partner could have been “the one” had they stayed with her. The brooding repetitions of “Love me, love me, love me” and the darker tone of the string arrangements in the outro set it apart amongst the tongue-in-cheek playfulness of the other tracks.

A 70s soul track, ‘Stop (Askin’ Me 4Shyt)’, is as hilarious as it is sonically pleasing. The lyrics centre around Monét’s frustration with her partner’s constant requests, featuring gems in the verses like “It ain’t even Christmas/And it ain’t your birthday”.


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JAGUAR II ends with two ballads, ‘Hollywood’ (featuring Earth, Wind & Fire, who are often cited as influences on Monét’s music, and her daughter Hazel) and ‘Good Bye’. Both tracks are wildly successful as album closers, with ‘Hollywood’ detailing how the simple aspects of life matter the most even in the midst of fame, while ‘Good Bye’ reflects on an amicable end to a relationship.

Fundamentally, ‘Good Bye’ encapsulates the bittersweet feeling of finishing JAGUAR II, a phenomenal album from start to finish. The level of skill and artistry on JAGUAR II, from the songwriting to its production, is reflective of a confident artist who has the creative capacity for exponential growth.