Record Label: Stones Throw
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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."
Krondon & Shafiq Husayn are White Boiz. Strong Arm Steady MC and Sa-Ra producer collaborate on new album for Stones Throw. 14-track album Neighborhood Wonderful is produced by Shafiq Husayn, featuring Thundercat, Anderson Paak, Chace Infinite and others.
Mayer Hawthorne & Jake One’s collaborative album Tuxedo gets remixed by Kaytranada (Warp Records), Battlecat (legendary West Coast DJ) & Jean Tonique (France).
On the M+M MIXES 12", John Morales, veteran DJ and one of the originators of the extended mix, supplies his signature treatment to several tracks from Mayer Hawthorne & Jake One's collaborative album Tuxedo. Watch The Dance & Watch the Dub, b/w Right Time and So Good get the trademark M+M mix.
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The Detroit MC returns with his third album for Stones Throw, produced entirely by Katalyst of hip-hop production supergroup Quakers. Guilty Simpson may have worked with hip-hop production luminaries from as far afield as California, New York and the UK, but his roots are forever in his hometown of Detroit. It was fellow Detroit native J Dilla who gave Guilty his debut, on “Strapped” from Jaylib’s Champion Sound (2003), and “As Serious as Your Life,” a Four Tet remix. At Dilla’s request, Guilty joined the Stones Throw fold, releasing his debut solo album Ode To The Ghetto in 2008, which established him as one of Stones Throw’s flagship artists.Two years later, Guilty returned with producer Madlib for OJ Simpson (Stones Throw, 2010), which Pitchfork heralded as “cohesive, focused, and flat-out fun… one of the best hiphop records of the year.” Guilty’s next appearance on Stones Throw was shorter but no less pivotal, a guest verse on “Fitta Happier” by Geoff Barrow’s hip-hop production supergroup Quakers. Time spent with Quakers co-founder Katalyst in Australia yielded an artistic chemistry between the MC and producer, and led directly to Guilty’s third album for Stones Throw. Detroit’s Son distills the essence of what made Ode To The Ghetto an underground classic. With the subject of life in the Motor City placed front and centre, Guilty’s uncompromising rhymes fit seamlessly with Katalyst’s hard-hitting beats. The raps are every bit as gritty as on Ode To The Ghetto or OJ Simpson, but there’s also a little light relief on tracks such as “Smoking,” probably about as close as Guilty will get to a summer anthem. This is the Detroit MC on his best form, rapping over beats perfectly tailored to his rough baritone. Guilty Simpson has always been skillful at combining hardcore rap with thought-provoking observations about the world around him, and it’s this talent that comes to the fore on Detroit’s Son.