Record Label: Stones Throw
Karriem Riggins is best known as a jazz drummer and hip-hop producer for artists like Common, Slum Village, Talib Kweli and The Roots, but he doesn't categorize himself as anything but an artist. He advises younger musicians to do the same. "You don't have to put yourself in a box...there's so many different ways to go," Riggins says. A student of late jazz bassist Ray Brown, he tours with another Brown protégé, Grammy Award winner Diana Krall. In 2011, he collaborated with former Beatle Paul McCartney in concert and on Kisses on the Bottom, McCartney's first studio release in five years. Names of some of the jazz artists he's backed reads like the genre's hall of fame - Hank Jones, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Donald Byrd and Ron Carter.
But on his solo debut Alone Together, set for an October 23 release on Stones Throw Records (Vinyl and digital will be released in two-parts over summer and fall 2012), Riggins plants himself firmly as a hip-hop producer with a 34-track instrumental odyssey through nearly every influence on his career thus far. The project was inspired by much of the music he was creating while living in Los Angeles, and also by the love of his son and family.
Now residing in his native Detroit, Riggins is back where it all began. "I feel like I can really breath and stay inspired here, and I have room to set up my lab and be creative," he says. This is the rationale behind the title Alone Together, taken from a jazz standard written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz that begin with the words, "Alone together, above the crowd."
"Coming back to the machines, I feel like I can really express myself," Riggins says. "This is the way that I express my rhythms."
Machines, however, are just one way he expresses his rhythms. Midway through the album, the track "Water" is interrupted by a vocal snippet where the speaker places Riggins "right at the intersection of hip-hop and jazz." Alone Together is that intersection; it's the jazz music he's played professionally since the age of 19, and it's crafting beats like "Africa" on an MPC5000 while touring throughout Eastern Europe and Russia.
"I need the balance," Riggins says, of working with the likes of Krall and McCartney, and also being able to go back to the studio and create hip-hop. "Without that, I couldn't be who I am."
Songs on Alone Together range from 14 seconds to a little over three minutes, and are the essence of man vs. machine. When Riggins channels Elvin Jones on the album's climax and tribute to his longtime friend, "J Dilla the Greatest," his tools are a Gretsch drum kit, the Fender Rhodes and an MPC3000. As versed as he is in jazz and pop, the machines will always be at the root – until the next thing.
"There's always something new to figure out," he says. "That's the blessing in it."
Tippa Lee’s new album Cultural Ambassador will be released on Stones Throw, May 20, 2016. Tippa Lee was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He started performing on his fathers Sound System as a child, standing up on a beer bottle box to reach the mic. He made his first recordings at King Tubby‘s studio at the age of 12. Eventually he teamed up with Rappa Robert and as a duo had a number of hits including “No Trouble We”, an anthemic statement against police harassment, which was a number one Jamaican hit in 1988 and is still played often on Jamaican radio. In more recent years he has been based in the US, performing live and releasing his own underground CDs.
Tippa Lee’s new album Cultural Ambassador will be released on Stones Throw, May 20, 2016.Available now is the dub version of the album, Dub Them with Reality, mixed by producer Tom Chasteen (Dub Club, Natural Numbers), who has reconfigured the tracks live on the mixing board with echo, reverb and various arcane electronics. The LP covers, in two variations, were screen printed in gold and black by Hit & Run, with artwork by Ellen G. Tippa Lee was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He started performing on his fathers Sound System as a child, standing up on a beer bottle box to reach the mic. He made his first recordings at King Tubby’s studio at the age of 12. Eventually he teamed up with Rappa Robert and as a duo had a number of hits including “No Trouble We”, an anthemic statement against police harassment, which was a number one Jamaican hit in 1988 and is still played often on Jamaican radio. In more recent years he has been based in the US, performing live and releasing his own underground CDs.
Homeboy Sandman is set to release Kindness For Weakness, his third full-length album on Stones Throw Records. The album's title comes from Sandman's internal insight saying "mistaking kindness for weakness is a weakness I need to have more kindness for." One of Sandman's most poignantly lyrical releases to date, the album centers on the MCs discomfort in his comfort zone and addresses themes such as his personal insecurities, rapper stereotypes and morality. Since signing with Stones Throw Records in 2011, Homeboy Sandman has made himself at home releasing 3 full-lengths – First of a Living Breed, Hallways, and now Kindness for Weakness – along with a series of 5 short records and most recently, releasing a free EP with collaborator Aesop Rock named Lice. Sandman has once again established himself as one of the most productive and creative lyricists of this generation.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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