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Victoria Monét on Battling Postpartum and Entering Her “Level-Up” Era With “Jaguar II”

Victoria Monét on Battling Postpartum and Entering Her "Level-Up" Era With "Jaguar II"

Welcome to Victoria Monét’s Jaguar universe. It took some time to get to what she calls her “level-up” era, but the whiz songwriter-turned-superstar-soloist is finally ready to unleash her long-awaited album “Jaguar II.”

Monét’s new LP, the second and final installment in her series, releases on Aug. 25, a little over three years after the original arrived in the midst of the pandemic. Both influenced and inspired by one of her favorite eras, the funk and soul of the 1970s, the “Smoke” singer calls “Jaguar II” the “more developed, confident, sure, better older sister.” And she’s ready for it to have its mammoth moment.

Unlike the sequel — which has already been lauded as one of the most anticipated R&B releases of the year — Monét wasn’t able to embrace the fullness of its predecessor’s arrival in the summer of 2020 because her career was on pause, along with the rest of the world in quarantine. She did, however, make time to nurture another new addition in her life: her first child, a daughter named Hazel.

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“Having a baby around that views everything as brand new can really re-inspire you and make you appreciate certain things that you may have taken for granted.”

Monét — well-known for penning hits for Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, Fifth Harmony, and more stars — tells POPSUGAR that becoming a mom has been the “biggest” change in her life since dropping her last project. It’s also helped the R&B songstress feel “really inspired” while crafting “Jaguar II.” “Having a baby around that views everything as brand new can really re-inspire you and make you appreciate certain things that you may have taken for granted, like rainfall, or a little butterfly, or any of the things that we see so much that we forget how beautiful they are,” Monét shares. “Living life in general has been reinvigorated with the little one around. Trying to teach her and walk her through everything reminds myself of everything that it takes to be here.”

Today, Monét affirms that she feels good and happy. Though this wasn’t always the case after she gave birth to her baby girl, whom she welcomed with partner John Gaines on Feb. 21, 2021. “I went through a phase, to be honest, where I was going through postpartum depression,” the three-time Grammy-nominated artist says. “It’s really a lonely place that’s not talked about too much. People mention it when you get pregnant but you may be as little as depressed afterward, and to the depth and how you pull yourself out of it, there’s no blueprint to that.”

Monét says she had to “really work through” her postpartum and leaned on a “great community of other moms” (including her own) to find support. She’s grateful the pandemic gave her space to do it. And now that she’s on the other side of it, the singer says she’s pouring all her energy into getting “Jaguar II” “out to the world.”

Foxxatron

Coming up with the album’s title came easy to Monét. According to her, the original plan was to roll out a three-part Jaguar series, though she didn’t anticipate a three-year gap between the 2020 and 2023 projects on account of the pandemic — so she cut the project trio down to a duo. “I was wanting to establish myself as an artist, and I thought the best way to do that was to create this universe that would be the world of Jaguar, but give it to people in microdoses,” Monét explains, adding that the idea was to “make people feel really full over the course of time.” However, too much time had passed and she felt like she “wouldn’t be in the same head space for a third part.”

“I’m really, really proud of what ‘Jaguar II’ is.”

Still, Monét found a way to give her fans a hearty second helping of her Jaguar era with another project that continues her nostalgia theme, as evidenced by her enchanting, tribute-filled visuals so far. She also teamed up with previous collaborators like producers D’Mile and Tim Suby and musicians like Peter Lee Johnson and Kyla Moscovich to ensure “Jaguar II” was cut from “the same cloth” and created with “the same intention” as the first project. “I’m really, really proud of what ‘Jaguar II’ is,” says Monét.

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The singer shares that some parts of recording her new album “started with a dream,” like securing a “full-circle” feature from the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire. “I never really thought that it would happen,” she confesses. “When I first started making any of the Jaguar music, I referenced Earth, Wind & Fire and listened to their music so much and was so inspired by them. So they’re the basis of the foundation of the Jaguar [projects], period.”

“When I first started making any of the Jaguar music, I referenced Earth, Wind & Fire and listened to their music so much and was so inspired by them.”

Monét’s visceral attraction to the ’70s, she says, stems from what she heard growing up. “I think about what my grandma was listening to, the Motown era, or what my family would play at family reunions, barbecues, or parties — or what my mom would play on a good Sunday cleaning day, just feel-good vibes,” she recalls of her childhood. “I think it’s hardwired in my brain to really love it, even if it’s subconscious.”

Fast-forward to today, when it came to recording “Jaguar” and “Jaguar II,” Monét was inspired to go “back into those crates and rediscover songs and who they were by” to mold her modern-day vision. “Just revisiting certain things and realizing how great it was for Black music,” she notes. “How many different artists there were that were mainstream . . . They were doing soul music, but it was considered pop, and they were very inventive and doing some fresh stuff and things that felt new for the time. So I’m really inspired by how that felt.”

Victoria Monét Shows Off Her Moves in Her Sexy, Dancehall-Inspired "Party Girls" VideoVictoria Monét Shows Off Her Moves in Her Sexy, Dancehall-Inspired "Party Girls" Video

Victoria Monét Shows Off Her Moves in Her Sexy, Dancehall-Inspired “Party Girls” Video

Fans will soon hear what Monét has brewed up for “Jaguar II.” She released small offerings in the first half of 2023 with her three singles — “Smoke,” “Party Girls,” and “On My Mama” — but is “super excited” for the world to hear the rest of her 11-track LP. With features from Lucky Daye and Buju Banton, production from Kaytranada, and a small cameo from daughter Hazel, the singer hopes all her listeners will walk away hearing something meaningful.

“I feel like this energy and this frequency that I’m on that is like the next level is coming and the things that I’ve been wishing for are on the way.”

“My first priority is people enjoying it and finding them in the right moments and in the right headspace,” Monét says. “[I hope] it’s something that they really want to come back to and that they feel really good about.” The R&B star also hopes “people find themselves in the album.” “Because I’ve said my piece, reflected on what I feel, and what I want to say,” she says. “So I’m hoping that the songs in the album reflect what people want to hear and what they want to say that they didn’t say themselves.”

“Jaguar II” isn’t the only big thing Monét has queued up. Starting in September, the singer will embark on her first-ever solo headlining tour, which sold out in mere minutes. And despite her years-long tenure in the music industry, Monét doesn’t mind that she’s still accomplishing “firsts” at this stage of her career. “I feel really thankful whenever the opportunities come,” she notes. “Obviously, in my life span, I don’t feel like a ‘new artist.’ I’ve been an artist since I was 17. So I’m never really surprised at doing new things still . . . I think everything happens when it’s supposed to.”

For Monét, the journey has always been more important than the destination. So now, all she wants to do is embrace “the level-up.” “I’ve been working so hard, and so many things have happened behind the scenes to make for these moments, but I feel like this energy and this frequency that I’m on that is like the next level is coming and the things that I’ve been wishing for are on the way. So I feel really good about this era, of what’s to come after ‘Jaguar II.'”

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