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  • Tracy Heck

Monique Nikkole making waves with 'Red Bottoms And Lingerie'

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Image by Errick Lewis

Born and raised in Brooklyn, soul/R&B singer Monique Nikkole is branching out with the release of her fiery new single and it’s remix with Lil’ Flip, “Red Bottoms and Lingerie.”

The award-winning singer/songwriter and promoter has been singing since she was a child, but stepped away from music for a long time before deciding to concentrate on her solo career once again.

Her raw soul music connects strongly with her audience and with her step into the current R&B and hip-hop sound, her audience is growing even wider.

Recently, she shared her thoughts on the single and what's next.

Q: How are things going?

Monique Nikkole: They’ve been going great; I can't complain. Everything is moving along nicely. The personal life is good, the music is good and the family is good.

Q: And things are finally open and going strong again.

MN: Absolutely! Outside of being a recording artist, I’m also a concert promoter so that’s huge news. I’m excited for restrictions to be lifted and to be able to really get back out there the way I was before. I really want to get back to promoting and playing concerts.

Q: Yes, even before you got back to your own music, you’ve always been involved in the music industry in some way. What does it mean to you to be able to work with new artists and help them kind of navigate things and find their place?

MN: I have a part of me that just loves to help and loves to plan and I like the business side of it. It’s frustrating sometimes, but I like putting the pieces together as a concert promoter dealing with the logistics or building and helping with something or helping someone build a career. I really still enjoy that aspect of the behind-the-scenes part. It means a lot to me to be able to put pieces together and watch the whole pie bake in the oven and when it’s done, it’s fulfilling; it really is.

Q: What made you get back into waiting to pursue your own music?

MN: Well, back in 2014 into 2015, I had taken a hiatus for a little while and I was working with one of my producer friends doing some writing and stuff like that. It just hit me like, you’re doing so much for everyone else, but the best investment is in yourself. I said, you need to give it a try because I’m not getting any younger and what do you have to lose when you invest in yourself... nothing!

You go ahead and create this body of work and build this brand and it was just one of those turning points where if you do all this stuff for other people, you have this talent that is kind of hidden and you’ve got to least at try it. I decided to make a go of it and from the time that it started, it hasn’t stopped! It’s really been a good thing.

I’m enjoying the evolution and the growth and each project is different. My body of music is really eclectic because of how I came up straddling a couple of great eras of music and my parents listening to music that came decades before me and having those influences in the house. That’s been a great benefit to me sound-wise to have such a melting pot of music around me. It all contributed in some way, shape and form to my own music and I just love it.

Q: And having that diversity in your music brings that diversity in your audience as well.

MN: Yeah, because I do like a little bit of everything. It’s cool. It’s been quite a ride and the new single is doing really well. People are really responding to it and to both versions and videos. I’m glad it’s continuing to grow and with COVID restrictions lifting, I’ll be able to do more shows and get a little bit more up close and personal with people if they feel comfortable with that. I had my vaccinations and I feel comfortable going out and I feel it’s long overdue!

Q: What can you expect from one of your shows?

MN: Oh wow! You know, it depends on the venue because I have a R&B soul and jazz background and if I’m in some place like a Blue Note, then that’s what you can expect in the set. However, if I’m doing my own concert like I did at Queens Theatre, then I would take them for a ride through the different genres of music that I sing and you can expect a few wardrobe changes to fit the aesthetic of what I’m singing in that moment.

You’ll get some classic R&B, a little bit of smooth jazz and then on to the contemporary R&B more like “Red Bottoms and Lingerie” and more upbeat songs like that.

I’m currently working on my new EP and it is more of that contemporary sound because I’m noticing that people are really liking that end of me. I hate to say it, but those commercial tunes tend to have a broader reach. It may not be my wheelhouse, but I enjoy singing everything.

I’m also working on a jazz standards album as well. I have a mixtape coming, a follow-up to Straight from the Crates Part 1. This will be the second part with my brother Rodney Banks and DJ Ice and Joe Lindsey is also producing. I’m not sure who else will be coming onto the project, but the theme is 90’s R&B fused with 90’s hip hop. It's a pretty fun fusion. The first mixtape was a fusion of 80’s R&B and hiphop and that’s on my Soundcloud. This one will be available on there as well.

Yeah, so there is definitely some fun stuff coming! I’ve got a lot going on. The deejays really like the mixtape format and responded well to that first project and overseas responded really well too, which was pretty cool. Hopefully, this follow-up will also have a positive reaction.

Q: What was it about the “Red Bottoms and Lingerie” track that caught your attention when your manager sent it to you?

MN: Well, he sent me this track and it is referenced by a man, right? Ray Lavender wrote the song and he was really singing this record. It was odd to hear a guy singing about lingerie, but he was really killing it. I thought it was a great record, but I said I don’t know because I don’t really sing like this.

The whole cadence was different. Today’s R&B sounds, I don’t want to say is all the same, but has a particular riff that you kind of hear and I was hearing those elements in the track. I was thinking to myself, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this my way while still staying in the pocket of the production and so on and so forth. I wanted to be able to throw some of my signature riffs in there.

I viewed it as a challenge and it was because I’m used to opening up and really singing and this was a different kind of singing and I enjoyed that challenge.

It was cool and quite an experience recording it. I look at everything as a lesson and now I know I can get into this pocket and we're going to do a couple more of these records. Once we completed it, it was pretty awesome.

It’s a great sounding record and we were debating because I felt like it needed a rapper and my manager felt the same way and my brother also. I was thinking males and they were thinking females, but I felt a male dynamic would be best.

That’s when my manager reached out to Lil’ Flip and it was pretty much history from there. He laid that verse down and he really laid the hell out of it. It took the song to another level.

We had a great chemistry and it was cohesive and really worked. And then, aesthetically, the video worked as well. It was just a great all-around package.

It took awhile to get everything scheduled because we’re both in different states, but we finally shot the video out in Houston and I’m really happy with the finished product. It was easy once we were all on the same page and it really gelled. Hopefully, we can do some more work together.

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