Victoria Monét Is A Lesson In Never Giving Up

Last September, the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards upset a lot of people when Victoria Monét was snubbed from performing. Victoria Monét was not one of those people.

The Atlanta-born, Sacramento-bred powerhouse gracefully thanked her fans for their “advocation for me” and clarified, “My team was told it is ‘too early in my story’ for that opportunity so we will keep working!” She ended her X (formerly Twitter) post with, “For me, it’s part of the story … and in God’s time.”

The VMAs’ decision was spectacularly ignorant for various reasons, not least of which that Monét’s “On My Mama” had been one of the hottest songs (and music videos) of the summer. But Monét is used to this. She shouldn’t have to be, but she is. Consistently, she has professed an unshakable conviction in what is meant for her, finding it in due time. The past year has surely felt like divine timing — from the August release of Jaguar II, her exquisite debut studio album, to winning three Grammys in February and making her Coachella debut in April (Beyoncé blessed Monét’s set by sending her flowers, a higher honor than the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.) More recently, Monét owned the 2024 BET Awards on June 30 — winning the night with her and Teyana Taylor’s “Bad Girl” performance — and shared top billing with Janet Jackson, her foremost influence, at Essence Festival 2024.

Long ago, she unsubscribed from arbitrary, linear timelines and subjective deification.

Increasingly, the music industry pedestals young, unpolished (and often white) artists who can generate instant yet fleeting gratification through online engagement. While Monét can play the numbers game, her artistry stands in defiance. Monét’s age is an outsized narrative because society insists on its significance in all the wrong contexts.

Ageism eventually comes for everyone, but it’s especially cruel to athletes, pop stars, and women. We should all thank God that Monét — a powerful Black woman who has danced since adolescence and mastered R&B/hip-hop so thoroughly that her pop appeal is undeniable — didn’t let ageism sabotage her career before it had a chance to blossom. Monét’s 35 years symbolize resilience and serve as proof of concept for anyone weighed down by the dumbfounding societal standard declaring someone’s twenties as their only viable decade.

Monét wasn’t visible in her twenties, but she was always viable. Her impact was palpable, even if her face wasn’t readily attached. It began with a 2008 MySpace DM to Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, leading to a move to Los Angeles in 2009 to join Jerkins’ girl group, Purple Reign, which never materialized. Instead, she cut her teeth as a songwriter for the likes of Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, T.I., and more. At one point, according to Billboard, she was a credited songwriter on 12 Billboard Hot 100 charters. In April 2019, Monét joined Grande, her most prolific collaborative relationship by far, as a forward-facing artist on their single (and bisexual anthem) “Monopoly,” which peaked at No. 69 on the Hot 100. Monét achieved top-tier songwriting success while simultaneously fighting for respect as a solo artist — releasing four EPs between 2014 and 2018 — and never seeking a shortcut.

“When I was putting out my first EPs, I didn’t have a team, and I didn’t have a manager,” Monét told Vulture in February. “Like, it was just me.”

Last November, when Monét learned she’d earned seven Grammy nominations in real time, she was surrounded by her family and team — jumping with glee and screaming in relief. If that recognition had come earlier, when she first thought she wanted it, that room wouldn’t have been as full. She wouldn’t have her longtime partner John Gaines or their three-year-old daughter, Hazel, who became the youngest-ever Grammy nominee as a featured artist on “Hollywood.” The moment couldn’t have been as satisfying. The timing wouldn’t have been right.

Come February, Monét won Best New Artist at the 2024 Grammys.

“To everybody who has a dream, I want you to look at this as an example,” she said in her emotional acceptance speech. “This award was a 15-year pursuit. I moved to LA in 2009. I like to liken myself to a plant who was planted, and you can look at the music industry as soil, and it can be looked at as dirty, or it can be looked at as a source of nutrients, and my roots have been growing underneath ground, unseen, for so long. I feel like, today, I’m sprouting.”

In May, she posted a framed screenshot of her February 2013 tweet manifesting a Grammy positioned behind her three Grammys, as she had also won for Best R&B Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

“It’s an incredible reminder that when you want something, the only thing between you and that thing is time, and if you’re willing to spend that time in your highest forms of hard work, passion, consistency and gratitude for the journey, your dreams will have no choice but to run to you!!,” Monét captioned the Instagram post.

It’s easy to profess patience and perseverance from the mountaintop, but Monét has been about it. An album as timeless as Jaguar II can only come from someone who took her time — someone who lived a life first.

Monét’s “On My Mama” video features cameos from Hazel, her mother, Mommy Monét, and Chalie Boy. The Dave Meyers-directed, Sean Bankhead-choreographed “Alright” video pays homage to Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott, and Britney Spears. Those full-on, old-school videos exploded online, creating discourse and metaphorical bouquets tossed Monét’s way.

But that’s not why Monét filmed them. That’s not why she’s stuck around for fifteen years. Monét knows what lasts and what doesn’t because she lasted a decade-plus without the external validation that she’d always deserved. She’ll last for another fifteen-plus because she doesn’t need it.