Born for Greatness
Following Monét’s “Party Girls,” their collaboration on Banton’s new album shows their synchronicity was no fluke
While much of the charm of Victoria Monét’s stunning new album Jaguar II comes from how skillfully she channels 1970s soul while establishing her own unique sound, Buju Banton has remained a fixture in reggae and dancehall since the 1980s by adapting the genres to the times. He broke out in 1987, broke Bob Marley’s record for the most Number One singles in Jamaica in a year in 1992, and earned six Grammy nominations for Best Reggae album between 1998 and 2020, and winning in 2010.
Monét, 34, was just a girl when her mom would play music by Banton, 50, during Sunday afternoon cleaning sessions that she reminisces on with joy. Because of this, she reached out via DM to him to join her on the Jaguar II single “Party Girls,” a sultry R&B cut with a dancehall undercurrent that satisfyingly swells during his lively verse and outro. Tapping in with Banton, a legend who dominated Jamaican music in the early 1990s, vibed well with Monét’s characteristic nostalgia.
However, when she returns the favor and features on Banton’s hearty new album, Born for Greatness, released on Sep. 8, their work together feels decidedly more modern, though just as delicious. Their singly “Body Touching Body” is more uptempo than “Party Girls,” with quicker, sharper drums and Buju’s voice crystal clear and front and center, rather than coated with reverb. It too is a decadent meeting of dancehall and R&B, with Banton deejaying sensually about a lover who’s “tough on the outside but inside, she soft” and Monét cooing a romantic chorus about doing life together. Though Banton’s music has been political and spiritual, marking his journeys across Rastafarianism and incarceration and tackling matters such as safe sex, capitalism, and gun violence, he’s also been long known for songs full of lust and longing. “Body Touching Body” is an expert meeting of two old souls and young hearts.