Victoria Monét – ‘JAGUAR’ review: songwriting ace makes majestic leap towards stardom

She was Grammy-nominated for Ariana Grande's 'Thank U, Next', and now the R&B singer has gone it alone with her sensual debut album

Think you don’t know Victoria Monét? Think again.

The 27-year-old singer-songwriter has had a hand in writing colossal hit singles, including Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next’ and ‘7 Rings’ (her work with the superstar’s most recent album, also titled ‘Thank U, Next’, won her no less than four Grammy nominations last year), and has collaborated with artists as varied as Fifth Harmony and Nas since the early ‘10s. And she’s now ready to step out to the centre of the stage with her debut album, the fiercely titled and ‘70s-inspired nine-song collection ‘JAGUAR’.

The Georgia-born, California-raised musician has long enjoyed a friendship with R&B producer D’Mile and the pair are a match made in audio Heaven, Monét soaring with magnetic choruses across nostalgic soundscapes. Channeling the fearless attitude of the titular beast, she leans into her desires, expressing both lust and emotional intensity. “I just wanna make you feel big boss like 1000 dollar bills” she chants on album opener ‘Big Boss (interlude)’, evoking the spirit of Keyshia Cole’s 2007 hit ‘Trust’, another song that explores the notion of selfless love.

The ‘70s funk-influenced title track finds Monét at her most vulnerable, admitting that she “lives on instinct”, and fittingly enough she seemingly spontaneously yells “let’s get wild” as distinctive horns – employed across the record – express unbridled joy. The funky ‘Go There With You’ sees her suggest that her passion, currently being used in an argument, could be transferred into the bedroom, an example of her twinkling sense of humour. The music is the message here, too, an electric guitar solo conveying a sense of reckless abandon. The song rolls around in the same bed sheets as Childish Gambino’s herculean 2016 hit ‘Redbone’.

Across ‘JAGUAR’, Victoria Monét unpicks the blurry line between lust and love, D’Mile’s impeccable and finely arranged production offering narrative stage directions such as the suggestive aforementioned guitar solo. Their relationship resembles that of R&B great Brandy and her frequent co-conspirator Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins, who has stood with the singer throughout most of her career (though the producer was notably absent from the recently released ‘B7’).

Victoria Monét reportedly delayed the release of ‘JAGUAR’ so as not to clash with the release of Beyoncé’s ‘Black Is King’ visual album. A shrewd move, perhaps, and this record heralds her as one of the most enticing acts in R&B’s contemporary canon, near-guaranteed to become a bonafide star in her own right.


Release date: August 7

Record label: Tribe Records