Victoria Monét sees herself as something of a musical jaguar — particularly in the way she has written for other acts (like Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony) during her career. “I feel like I’ve been behind the bushes and in the background, and I think jaguars themselves live in that way,” she explains. “They find the right moment to attack — and get what they want.” With Jaguar II, the sequel to 2020 EP Jaguar that’s due July 14, the singer-songwriter pounces upon different styles, from dancehall to Southern rap. The first three singles give a glimpse into the project’s variety. “These were the three that embodied what the rest of the album would sound like,” she says.
“Smoke” Featuring Lucky Daye
The album’s first single is the final product of an unfinished track created during Monét’s Jaguar sessions: She started with a rough melody and hook before adding horns and fleshing out the production with her go-to producer, Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II. Monét then decided that the hazy song needed another dynamic: “I thought Lucky was the perfect choice,” she says of his feature on the sultry R&B track. “It sounds like something he would make. I felt like [he] was the male version of myself.”
“Party Girls” Featuring Buju Banton
When D’Mile played the bassline for “Party Girls,” Monét immediately envisioned Caribbean flare. She honed in on the sound and stepped out of her comfort zone by DM’ing Jamaican reggae and dancehall veteran Banton, asking if he wanted to hop on the song. To her surprise, he was already following her — and shortly after, the two video-chatted on WhatsApp so Banton could play her his verse. Monét and D’Mile then reworked the production to make the song lean even more into dancehall. “ ‘Party Girls’ gives you the other side that’s more grounded, street and raw,” she says.
“On My Mama”
Monét added Southern twang to “On My Mama” by sampling Texas rapper Chalie Boy’s 2009 track, “I Look Good.” She built the song around “the wonky guitar you hear at the beginning,” saying that when she first heard it, it immediately recalled the original, which peaked at No. 13 on the Hot Rap Songs chart upon its release. “It was just a random idea,” she says. “It felt like that song could be a part of the melodies and the production we were working on.” At first, Monét wasn’t sure if she would actually include the sample, but she says adding it gave the song a balance of masculine and feminine energy — which she says that Chalie Boy and his team ultimately loved, too.