Words by Malanda Jean-Claude

The Playground Experience, a two-week residency set in the Northrup
King Building, a warehouse space located in the Northeast
Minneapolis Arts District. A monolith for artistic expression just shy
from downtown and bustling traffic.

In partnership with Public Functionary, this experience was led by Vie
Boheme, a multimodal artist, whose work functions as a conduit
between wellness and ethereal performance. The artists, MMYYKK,
Ricki Monique, and Vie Boheme embark on a journey of refinement
and musical rendition. Through critique and probing at their existing
work, they attempt to strip perfection for authenticity. As an artist
myself, I felt honored to witness a MoMA type presence crafted in

Italian Silks, Summoned Rap

A lounge sofa sits center stage cushioned with red linen marked with
golden light. A young emcee, Ricki Monique, welcomes the audience
and begins her set reciting lyrics a capella from her praised-by-all
single “Immortal.” Each syllable rolling like a typewriter to a memory,
homage to blackness and adolescence delivered with distinct
precision. The silence in the room imbued the air something holy. I
witnessed the revision of something exceptional. I felt as though an
orb entered the Public Functionary space and stumbled across
ephemeral magic. The lighting formed shape, one could mistake the hues for a live-action watercolored painting; brushing against a
makeshift forest. The stage glowed a warmth that kept the audience in
comfort holding gaze with cinematic suspense. Ricki, no longer an emcee, a time traveler floating seamlessly in Italian silks baring bone-
chilling lyrics reliving a youth summoned through rap.

An Auditory Baptism.

“What about God, what about gods?”

A haunting synth permeates a sound through high rise speakers,
transforming a dimly lit room draped in white linen to paradise. A
camera suspended above the surface projecting the chorus inside a car
ride as a visual metaphor. MMYYKK (pronounced “Mike”) hovers
gently over a keyboard— like a skater on ice with bone-chilling vocals
washing a myth singing: “I can’t distinguish your energy from friend—
or enemy. I’m searching for freedom to love again.” He maintains
remarkable control over a song too poignant to sing, voice almost
cracking the way loneliness creeps uninvited in shadowed places.
MMYYKK, a refined melodist switches an octave to embody a god-like
calling, a slowed down tempo to a song that feels like prayer. An
auditory baptism of synths and pleas. “Don’t let the hustle turn you
cold.” He echoes repeatedly creating a bridge into the scope of a
spiritual man. An artist seeking balance between hustle and personal

“My Heart Is Following You.”

We open on a rhythmic hum, her hand a metronome, towered
against a cocoon shaped sculpture. Swaying softly to a world
beginning to form. Vie Boheme, an artisan of movement motions
swiftly, salving hums vesseled through song. Vie’s voice cuts through
like a hymn, that warm texture of a vinyl; an ensemble quartet of an
orchestra. She transitions between the space of movement and
stillness, while holding comfort and space in both. This performance
is an accumulation of the many years I have had the privilege to
witness her artistry transcend the ceiling of coined compliments.
“Your tone is like a bell.” One of the participants in the auditory
experience echoed, “My heart is following you.” Her Ivory-mesh
dress displayed a feminine power, a freedom so palpable the
audience placed eyes on a revolutionary recital. Not a moment went
by where you weren’t captivated by Vie’s symphony of talents,
watching her perform unveils the gate-kept potential for community
healing. A remedial practice embodied through the sharing of space;
a reminder that we can conjure a higher call and through answering–
we become conscious of a cleansing desperately needed, and
reclaiming space that amalgamated with darkness.

These artists allowed a kind of washing over the room, a reckoning of
ingenious expression. They invited the audience in the summoning;
their collective ability to break the fourth wall between performance
and truth.

The playground experience was unquestionably authentic and a much
needed breath.