Karriem Riggins has often shifted between the jazz and hip-hop scenes, but the two genres are so inextricably linked that it would be better to call him a flexible multi-instrumentalist and producer. Primarily a drummer -- he plays several other instruments and raps as well -- Riggins grew up in Detroit, took up music at an early age and, at the age of 17, was playing drums for Betty Carter. Before he turned 20, he temporarily relocated to New York and gained steady work with gigs, session dates, and production work. During the latter half of the '90s, he recorded with the likes of Mulgrew Miller, Rodney Whitaker, Ray Brown, and Roy Hargrove. He also established a lasting creative relationship with rapper Common, beginning with 1997's One Day It'll All Make Sense. Throughout the 2000s, he continued to work with jazz musicians while collaborating with fellow Detroiters Slum Village and J Dilla, in addition to the Roots, Consequence, and Erykah Badu. Some of his most significant work came with the completion of the posthumous Dilla album The Shining.
In 2012, after drumming on Paul McCartney's Kisses on the Bottom, he finally released recordings of his own. The sibling releases Alone and Together -- abstract, sample-heavy beat collages, close in spirit to Dilla's Donuts -- were released on vinyl and as digital downloads, and they were combined as Alone Together for the CD format. During the few years, he was credited on a wide variety of recordings by Theo Croker, Diana Krall, Kanye West, Esperanza Spalding, and Norah Jones, among others. He also continued to work closely with Common and produced the entirety of the rapper's Black America Again. Still affiliated with Stones Throw, Riggins delivered Headnod Suite in 2017. ~ Andy Kellman