WORDS BY SOFIA HAAN
It’s often said that people are made up of all the people who have ever impacted us, a mosaic of ideas, experiences, and attitudes that mold us into the people we are today. If Toussaint Morrison believes that idea, he not only wears his mosaic like a badge of honor, but he has integrated it into his creative process. With the upcoming release of the Minneapolis musician, actor, and activist’s album The Very Best of Ricky and Jane, he’s ready to share the person that those influences have created.
Morrison describes his creative process as exploring those formative moments of life like a montage in reverse, starting with the more recent, impactful periods first and cycling back toward his upbringing.
“The creative process is tapping into moments like being kettled on the highway during the protests, being kettled in St. Paul during anti-protests against Stop the Steal and the rallies,” he says. “Essentially, it’s tapping into the deep trauma and anxiety of and pain of watching yourself in community actions and having flashbacks to when you’re two or three and watching your parents engage in activism in New Orleans.”
As he integrated these influential moments into his work, he was also working through the deeply emotional moments of feeling his experience and ideas entirely dismissed as a Black man in Minnesota, regardless of how that presents to some listeners. “That dismissal is rampant [in Minnesota], but I gotta call it out. Tapping into those moments where dismissal is happening, that’s where a lot of writing came from. It might come off enraged and pissed the fuck off, but this voice that I’m speaking from is tapping from a well that’s been entirely dismissed for a lifetime.”
The album that took shape came from a furious outpouring—tracks that feel timely and potent, laying bare his collected lived experiences for the world. “It feels like urgency in slow motion and it’s paying homage to the family you’re somewhat forced to get along with,” he says. “It’s painfully loving the people in a space and it’s giving time, spirit and energy to a city that never loved you back.”
In one sense, that city comes from his years in Minneapolis, but it’s also his hometown of New Orleans. In another sense, it’s also the white spaces that never allowed him or anyone else of color to truly be their authentic selves and continually engaged in practices of pain, white supremacy, and patriarchy while denying their oppression. Morrison also tips his cap to the family and the people at the core of The Very Best of Ricky and Jane, nodding to his grandfather who taught him to play instruments, and his father who involved him in political organizing and introduced him to his musical influences, such as Ice Cube. In fact, it’s his parents who give the album its title: Ricky and Jane. “A lot of people say we’re the best of our parents,” he says of the title. “Not all of us have the best relationships with our parents, and we may never have the best relationships [with them.] But imagine everyone is doing the best they can, which I believe to be the truth, and sometimes the best someone has to give you isn’t enough? But they’re doing their best.”
While the album itself won’t be available to the general public until March 2023, Morrison is playing the Uptown VFW to celebrate an early album release. Forever a New Orleans boy at heart, he will be accompanied by a brass band and an ensemble of live musicians, made up of close-knit connections he has formed from years playing in the Minneapolis music scene. Corey Medina and the Brothers, as well as a surprise guest who is “one of the most influential standalone independent musicians in the Twin Cities,” will be opening the show. Finally, everyone who attends will leave with a handmade care package from Morrison himself, including a link to download the first half of the album.
By harnessing the power of the memories, the people, and the experiences that shaped him, Toussaint Morrison is boldly sharing his own story, turning it into a work of art.
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