Free Music Streams and Free Music Videos
247 News - "Best Free Music Site Period"
The veteran beatmaker had a banner year in 2016, executive producing Common’s Black America Again, providing the blueprint for Kanye West’s “30 Hours,” and collaborating with Kaytranada, Esperanza Spalding, and the Roots. Four years after Karriem Riggins‘ first solo endeavor, Alone Together, put him on the map as more than just a standout session musician, Riggins’ musical life seemed richer than ever.
Alone Together’s sequel, the new Headnod Suite, echoes the template laid out by its predecessor. The record is, again, a nearly hour-long selection of more than two dozen expertly-made beats, seemingly linked by very little other than the fact that Riggins considered them strong enough to make the album. There’s one exception on Headnod—about two-thirds of the way through the record, a set of tracks form a mini-suite that stands as a short detour before we return to regularly scheduled swing programming.
These tracks, part of the “Cheap Suite,” are the most cohesive section of the larger record. They are roomier, more experimental, and they lead Headnod Suite into more interesting territory, as Riggins explores rhythm-and-space-led compositions reminiscent of the work of Deantoni Parks. Though they are harsher and less soulful than much of what precedes them, these tracks work as a unified experience. Moreover, once you listen to them, you note the trail of breadcrumbs from earlier in the album (“Invasion,” “Dirty Drum Warm Up”) that heralded their arrival.
Elsewhere, Riggins focuses on rolling out gem after gem, with careful thought given to the little details that distinguish a cubic zirconia from a diamond. Riggins is such an expert drummer that it can be hard to identify him as having any kind of percussive signature. These features—the perfectly chopped sample over the tiptoe-light beat on “Sista Misses,” the atmospherics and perfectly placed guitar riff on “Other Side of the Track,” the clatters and snaps that open “Bahia Dreamin,’” the complex bass work underlying the candy-sweet, teased-out melody on “Crystal Stairs”—give him his voice as a producer.
Riggins’ abiding love for hip-hop is showcased throughout Headnod Suite. On “Never Come Close,” a selection of Prodigy’s verse from “Shook Ones Pt. II” leads out of the track as if it were a final showstopping instrumental flourish, while on “Keep It On,” Common’s ad-libs are swaddled in a steady beat and warm instrumentation, like a beloved child. Even the interludes that Riggins commits to exploring throughout the record come off as a tribute to the skits and exclamations that adorn rap albums—little breaks where vocals communicate an attitude and sense of place.
Though there are few beats here that miss the mark, the big issue is that Riggins has trouble editing his cuts down to a standard length. They regularly sprawl beyond the two-minute mark and sometimes even make it to three. In an interview with XXL, he expressed that one of the big differences between Headnod Suite and Alone Together was that the new album contained more “stuff MCs will want to rap to.” True, some of the tracks seem gratuitously extended in order to coax rappers into adopting them, giving them a home on their own projects. You can’t blame Riggins for wanting more spotlight. His turn on Black America Again gave Common the template for what was arguably his strongest record in more than a decade. Coming off that success, and his many other impressive collaborations, Headnod scans as a beat tape in the classic sense: welcoming to all listeners, but meant to convey something particularly special for those who might help Riggins take his career even further.Share