Tag Archives: beats

Album of the Day: Karriem Riggins, “Headnod Suite”

It’s a fair assumption that Karriem Riggins never stops working—for that matter, he may never sleep. The 41-year-old Detroit native has been on a tear since his 2012 debut, Alone/Together, but he’s been making music for much longer than that. Just a quick look at his credits might leave you feeling overwhelmed. His collaborators have included everyone from the late J Dilla to Daft Punk and Paul McCartney, and they’re not even part of his absolutely massive workload in 2016, when he earned credits on some of the year’s biggest records—Kaytranada’s 99.9% and Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution—while also producing an entire album for rapper Common.

And yet, in the midst of all that, Riggins somehow found the time to craft Headnod Suite, the follow-up to Alone/Together. It’s just as sprawling in scope as its predecessor—29 tracks to A/T’s 34—and equally ambitious, with a majority of its songs hovering around or below the two-minute mark. As a result, Headnod Suite treads that line of being not quite a beat tape, and not quite a jazz album. It instead lives somewhere in between. It’s a realm reserved for producers like Riggins and his contemporaries. They’re constantly searching for the next sample to chop, the right drum beat, the perfect bassline. And in doing so, Riggins has crafted vignettes (the Common-sampling “Keep It On,” and Dilla-referencing “Never Come Close”) and fully-realized moments (the moving “Suite Poetry” featuring poet Jessica Care Moore, and video game-blazed “Crystal Stairs”).

Projects like these—meaning, those in the key of Donuts—are carefree and hectic listens, delivering a barrage of sounds that dissipate as quickly as they appear. But that’s part of the fun, challenging your brain to fight against using an album like Headnod Suite as mere background music. Simply put: you’re going to pay attention, whether it’s because of Moore’s beautiful turn on “Suite Poetry,” or Riggins linking with bassist Derrick Hodge and keyboardist James Poyser (of the Roots) for “Suite Outro.” The album may fade out with those three jamming away, perhaps teasing some kind of proper collaborative record, but it also pulls you back in, begging you to keep nodding along.

Andrew Martin

On “Jardín,” Gabriel Garzón-Montano Puts Himself Front and Center

gabriel-garzan-montano-by-joe-hollier-600

Gabriel Garzón-Montano by Joe Hollier

It’s hard to tell where Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s studio ends and his bedroom begins. There’s a fully-assembled drum set nestled in the bottom of the singer/producer/instrumentalist’s closet. An array of synthesizers, keyboards, and speakers occupy most all of his desk space. And, behind the door, looming over the room, are a stack of black crates filled with exotic percussive instruments—from the tiny Brazilian tambourine that graced “Keep on Running” to the Tibetan bells that open “Fruitflies,” a track from his upcoming LP Jardín. In an age of sample-pack and VST-based musicians, the presence of so many tangible analog instruments is refreshing. Of course, there’s a laptop too; it sits atop a vintage Oberheim synth on his desk. But, it’s clear that when Garzón-Montano says he plays everything in most of his songs, he really plays everything.

The walls of Garzón-Montano’s bedroom studio are adorned with a similar blend of music and personal mementos. Most notably, amid the concert flyers, vinyl LPs, and pictures of his idols (including an ornately-framed pencil drawing of Lil Wayne), are portraits of his parents. His French mother’s knowledge of classical harmony and Colombian father’s love of cumbia rhythms pulse through his music. In the end, Jardín’s 10 tracks of genre-bending soul play much like his room looks—the work of a man with as many talents as sources of inspiration.

Ironically, working from home is difficult for Garzón-Montano. “It’s something I’ve resented.” he says as we discuss the years he’s spent writing Jardín in his room, “I’ve loved going to studios or leaving my place to work.” It’s hard to imagine he’ll be spending much time at home in the upcoming months. Bishouné: Alma del Huila, Gabriel’s first EP, sent him on a world tour opening for Lenny Kravitz, then to California to sign with Stones Throw Records. Jardín is set to propel him even further. The question is no longer how far, but how high?

In the days before his debut LP’s release, we talked with Garzon-Montano about how Jardín came together, and his efforts to grow as a performer.

Continue reading

Get to Know Paul White, Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Producer

Paul White. Photo by Owen Richards.

Paul White. Photo by Owen Richards.

If you’ve been following rap from 2011 to now, chances are very likely you’ve heard the work of Paul White. The London producer’s name has been attached to several critically acclaimed projects in 2016 alone. This year, he released a collaborative album with Chicago art-rap aficionado Open Mike Eagle, and produced the majority of Danny Brown’s brilliantly bizarre new record, Atrocity Exhibition.

Those releases, and much of the rest of his current discography, may be rooted in rap music, but don’t pigeonhole Paul White as a producer limited to a single genre. “I love putting all sorts of different genres together [to] prove genres don’t really exist,” he says. “People think it’s one genre and they assume they don’t like it—I’m really against that.”

White’s mission is tied to his self-described hippie lifestyle in which “everything’s related, everything’s the same.” For him, that thinking goes deeper than music, but the medium just happens to be his philosophical outlet. “One thing I’ve always tried to be is really diverse and try as many different things as possible,” White explains. “It’s great to have all these different projects out there now with different sounds attached.”

He’s constructed an impressive library of releases over the years, which for some, could prove overwhelming at first. We caught up with White, who walked us through his essential jams.

Continue reading

The Month in Mixtapes: October 2016

rap-mixtape-600

Original image from Kirsty Andrews.

Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

[cdp], galena

No beat in [cdp]’s world comes easy. With galena, the Late Nite Collective leader doubles down on difficulty, wobbling, bending and squiggling his way in lateral, hyper-gestural movements through a swift five tracks, all of them clocking in at under two minutes. On this tape, the beats don’t really “land.” Instead, they smear across the pavement, opening new dimensions through rubber-band melodies that refuse to stay put. It’s weird, restrained, and wonderful.

Continue reading

The Month in Mixtapes: September 2016

September Rap Mixtape Covers
Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

wllsn,  one thousand one nights

wllsn is a Geneseo, New York-based producer who is driven by capricious desires and a fluid sense of musical style. Since 2015, he has repped everything from from vaporwave to beat-oriented noise workouts , to an eccojam’d Filter album. His latest is one thousand one nights, a hip-hop inflected mixtape that takes the future beats out of the grid with tempo switchups and slightly-off rhythms, tumbling and stuttering with a playful, malleable composition. He even flips composer Erik Satie on this one. It’s an understated and ambiguous listen, but its quiet innovations are loud and clear.

Continue reading