Donny Jiang


Artist You Should Know: Ricki Monique Is More Than Just a Musician

June 7, 2022

Ricki Monique is one of those artists who has the ability to capture the listener’s attention with just a single note. Her presence is felt on each record she’s on and it’s hard to escape from her spell casting lyricism. The Minnesota based artist has been bubbling up with a string of singles such as “Immortal” and “Cereal” which left us in anticipation of more music from her. Her recent EP, Good Seeds, has delivered well produced body of work that will make you pay attention if you haven’t already. On Good Seeds, Ricki Monique roped in frequent collaborators, yourbeautifulruin’s on “Immortal” and MMYYKK on the song “Cereal”, with Zak Khan and The Data Waves lending their talents to see the EP coming to life.

Earlier this year, AFROPUNK announced Ricki Monique as part of the Planet AFROPUNK Live: Minneapolis event taking place during the Juneteenth weekend at Sheridan Memorial Park. We caught up with Ricki Monique ahead of her performance to find out more about her creative process behind Good Seeds and what else she has going on outside of music.

AFROPUNK: You started writing short stories, poems and songs at a very young age. What do you remember as your first introduction to writing?

Ricki Monique: In 4th Grade, I had a teacher who made us learn a new poem each month. The poems were always written by Black folks and typically, they were famous pieces by Black poets (Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, etc.). We’d pick groups to recite these poems for the class each month in creative ways. At the end of the year, she let us write our own poems and perform them. I rapped with a group of my close friends in the class who were also Black girls. I remember knowing we had the hottest piece in the class and I remember feeling extremely confident in my ability to write creatively after that.

AP: How would you say the city of Minneapolis influences your approach to your art?

RM: The city of Minneapolis doesn’t have that many spaces where Black artists are able to showcase, profit, or sit-in (meaning process/ grow) their work. My friends and I have had to build our own spaces so I’d say the influence Minneapolis has on my creativity is very much a “DIY” attitude. It’s taught me to network horizontally, build my tribe,  and grow with like-minded folks. I’d also say, the strong group of artists that  I’m in space with here inspire me everyday to step my game up and come harder each time I record/ write music. We’re all very hungry and ready to show the world that Black artists in Minneapolis will not be defined by trauma. Even before the uprising, when there was racism going on, we never let those things define us. We built our own spaces and lifted one another up.

AP: Leading up to your latest EP, Good Seeds what was your creative process? And how would you describe the sound of this EP?

RM: My creative process originally looked a lot like me going to yourbeautifulruin’s house and exploring sounds/ dreaming about what visuals and a rollout could look like. Then the process became very collaborative with folx like Charles Fatunbi and Justin Blake on the film/ creative side. Lots of journaling, dreaming, planning, budgeting, and making people believe in the project went into the process of bringing GOOD SEEDS to fruition.  I would describe the sound of the Good Seeds EP as warm, natural, grown, and healing. At least for me, this project was very healing. I was able to find my sound, while expressing some of the things that were on my heart.  I’ve already had lots of people say that they were able to clean their homes with Good Seeds on repeat, take a nap, get work done, do yoga, and more to my songs. I’m grateful that my music gives space for people to chill/ get themselves together/ heal.

AP: On Good Seeds you worked with MMYYKK on the song “Cereal” and yourbeautifulruin on “Immortal”. How was the experience, and what lessons did you take away from working with them?

RM: The experience working with yourbeautifulruin, MMYYKK, Zak Khan, and The Data Waves was amazing! The work speaks for itself I think. Working with yourbeautifulruin specifically came so easy and that’s never happened for me before. I’d say creating this project with these dope individuals taught me that I have support! For a while I felt very alone as an artist. We’re expected to do everything (marketing, continuously make GOOD music, have a vision, network, etc.) regardless if we have a team or not. Before I built my creative team, these people believed in me enough to put their all in my production because they BELIEVED IN ME and my talent. That means so much to me and I’m extremely excited to grow with them.

AP: Outside of music you’re an activist and the co- founder of Tangible Collective. Can you tell us about the work you do and how people can support or get involved?

RM: Tangible Collective was built by my best friend Za’Nia Coleman and I to support Black artistry and Black thought here in Minnesota. We initially wanted to serve as a consistent safe space for artists to showcase and build their work in front of an audience. We have now grown into a space with funding to help artists expand their capacity while finding new ways of helping artists and ourselves sustain. This looks like paying folks to create accessible art for community, providing resources to help artists push their work/ creative ideas to a larger audience, providing space for curriculum building for artists while paying them to teach free community classes on their craft, and hosting intentional community events centered in opportunity/ dreaming/ intentionality. Support wise, we would love a follow on Instagram @tangiblecollectivemn to stay in the loop with the artists we work with and our future events. We also are accepting donations to help us with fall programing and rent for our studio

Lastly, we have a few links to our website and merch to learn more/ support our collective

AP: You’re performing at Planet AFROPUNK Live: Minneapolis during the Juneteenth weekend, what can people expect from your set?

RM: I’m really excited to be performing at planet AFROPUNK!! People can expect live instrumentation, lots of call and response, and some storytelling.

AP: Who are your top five upcoming artists from Minneapolis that people should look out for?

RM: This is a tough one!!! I’d say Xina, Juice Lord, Riot Girl Darko, Essjay The Afrocentric Ratchet, and Papa Mmbye. I admire each of them for their pen, approach to creating music, and innovation. 

AP: Good Seeds has given your trajectory to stardom momentum, and the work you’ve put out is visible from every touch point of your artistry. What’s next for Ricki Monique? 

RM: I love that! What’s next for me is exploring my voice and giving myself space to unpack tough topics for myself. I’ve always used music as a way to express and heal myself. I plan to give myself more space for that and find more sustainable avenues to build a world out of my artistry. Releasing GOOD SEEDS was very hard for me emotionally so I hope to find healthy ways to release my music.

AP: Lastly, what feeling, message would you like people to take away from your music?

RM: I would like the concept of ‘leaning into joy’ to be spread by my music. I also want people to know that it will not always be easy to choose what brings you joy but I hope my journey as an artist shows people that it pays off in the long run. I really believe that Joy is our true nature and we were put on earth to experience it as often as possible. The social, economic, and political climate of the country (and world s/o imperialism) makes it feel like a fight to be joyful. I want my music to remind people that they deserve joy and they deserve the fight to find it/ whatever it means to them.

Stream Good Seeds here: