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Riki gets green light on Gee Street

Published:Thursday | November 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle

Jamaican-born Rickolette Simmonds, more popularly known by her stage name Riki, is hoping to hit the right musical notes with the Jamaican audience. As she eyes a place in the highly competitive reggae/dancehall market, she has already made some power moves by becoming the first artiste to sign with the freshly resurrected Gee Street Records.

Gee Street Records is a British hip-hop record label started by Jon Baker in 1985. It was acquired by Chris Blackwell's Island Records in 1990. Baker then bought back the label in 1998 and sold it to Virgin's Richard Branson. The label was shuttered in 2001, but was recently revived with Riki as its leading lady.

The 23-year-old got connected to Baker, who also runs Geejam studios in Portland, through his wife, Nordia 'Coco' Witter. She was in Jamaica to visit family but, as fate would have it, became acquainted with Baker. He loved her style and sound so much he wanted to be a part of bringing her to Jamaica’s attention.

“Meeting Jon, I guess he really liked my music and stuff, because I spent one night up there (at Geejam) and the next day he was like ‘yow you’re really spunky' and that he liked it, so he said he really wanted to work with me,” Riki said. “I already had a project at the time called 'Venting', so we just reworked it, fixed what needed to be fixed and that was the beginning. I am the first artiste on the label now that it’s back, so I guess that’s a big compliment and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my creativity with the world.”


Riki whose first love was track and field told The Gleaner she always recognised she had a talent for singing, but really pursued music after meeting other entertainers and becoming inspired by their love for art form. “As a kid I used to always be singing and trying to write songs and people would tell me I could sing. But for me I wasn’t really thinking of it as a serious thing; I was just expressing myself,” she said. “I didn’t really figure out that I wanted to be an artiste until I did my first song and put it out on the Internet. Maybe like 300 people retweeted it that day and I didn’t have that much followers so for me that was a big deal. That kinda pushed me into thinking I could do this for real.”

She began to experiment with her musical gift some more, toying with different genres of music. Having got a feel of the different musical styles, Riki decided she didn’t want to put her music into a box. So today she describes her sound as "world music", as it incorporates a little bit of everything. “My music right now is a fusion, it’s like a hybrid of influences. The artistes that I really love, that inspired me to do music from all genres, are a part of my sound,” she said. “My music has a neo-soul sound and will reflect everything from hip-hop to dancehall, to R &B to reggae.”

Having figured out her sound and getting signed by a label, Riki is now getting ready to release her debut album. Titled 'Salience', the project is expected to bring out all types of emotions in its listeners. The songs selected to be a part of the compilation explores love, pain, rebellion and a whole lot more according to Riki.

“When you hear Salience you will learn about who I am as an artiste. It is something that will stick out, because it’s natural and will make you feel everything I felt putting it together,” she said.