Karriem Riggins
Riggins in 2014
Riggins in 2014
Background information
Born (1975-08-25) August 25, 1975 (age 47)
OriginDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
  • Musician
  • record producer
  • disc jockey
  • songwriter
  • Drums
  • percussion
Years active1990s–present
LabelsStones Throw
Member of

Karriem Riggins is an American jazz drummer, hip hop producer, DJ and songwriter.


Riggins was born in Detroit, Michigan, son of keyboardist Emmanuel Riggins. As a child, he would often watch his father perform with Grant Green, Marcus Belgrave and others. He joined the Kennedy Elementary school band in the sixth grade as a trumpeter, studying with Belgrave, where he played for two years in addition to drums before switching to drums full-time in the eighth grade.

Riggins was a DJ, producing hip-hop and performing in three different school bands at Southfield High School before leaving school in the eleventh grade. He joined Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead band soon after at age 17 and moved to New York in 1994,[1] later joining the Mulgrew Miller trio. He also performed in bands with Steven Scott and Benny Green before joining Roy Hargrove's band in the middle of 1995.

After three years with Hargrove, Riggins joined the trio of famed bassist Ray Brown. After leaving Brown's band, he began producing hip-hop extensively and serving as the bandleader for rapper Common's band, A Black Girl Named Becky. Riggins had met Common in 1996, and began spending time with the rapper during visits with notable hip-hop producers.

Riggins also met J Dilla, a fellow Detroit native, in 1996. The two were later reintroduced through Common and developed a close friendship through the end of Dilla's life. Riggins frequently cited Dilla as a primary influence and being personally responsible for helping him overcome multiple creative ruts throughout his career. During the course of their friendship, Riggins produced and appeared on multiple J Dilla albums including Welcome 2 Detroit and The Shining.[2] He credits Dilla for purchasing the first production he ever sold, for "The Clapper" on Welcome 2 Detroit.

As a drummer, Riggins has also recorded and/or performed with Donald Byrd, Hank Jones, Milt Jackson, Oscar Peterson, Norah Jones, Cedar Walton, Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spalding and Bobby Hutcherson.[3] 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. He currently tours with another Ray Brown protégé, pianist Diana Krall.

Away from jazz, Riggins has done production work for hip hop artists including Slum Village, Erykah Badu, Common, J Dilla, The Roots, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Kaytranada, Earl Sweatshirt, Phat Kat, Consequence and Dwele.[4] He has collaborated with the hip hop multi-instrumentalist Madlib, performing on his 2007 album Yesterdays Universe and in collaborations entitled Supreme Team and The Jahari Massamba Unit.[5]

Riggins released his debut full-length album, the instrumental double-LP Alone Together on Stones Throw Records on October 23, 2012. Prior to the full album release, Stones Throw released the two halves of the album separately on vinyl as well as digitally exclusively through their website. Alone was released on July 30 and Together followed on October 2.[6] He spent much of 2016 at work on Common's much-heralded Black America Again album, which featured Stevie Wonder on the title song and included a performance at the White House as part of NPR's "Tiny Desk Concerts" series. On February 24, 2017, Riggins released his second album on Stones Throw, Headnod Suite.[7]

Along with Common and Robert Glasper, Riggins received the award for Outstanding Original Music & Lyrics at the 69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards for the song "Letter to the Free" which appeared in Ava DuVernay's Netflix documentary "13th".[8]

He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.[9]



Production credits

with Common
with J Dilla
with others

Awards and honors


  1. ^ Burrell, Jalylah. "What You Feel". Portland Mercury.
  2. ^ "The Diary: Karriem Riggins Speaks on J Dilla". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  3. ^ Jazz, All About. "Karriem Riggins @ All About Jazz". Allaboutjazz.com.
  4. ^ "Karriem Riggins | Credits". AllMusic.
  5. ^ "Karriem Riggins: True Virtuoso by Dale Coachman". Archived from the original on October 15, 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "KARRIEM RIGGINS - TOGETHER LP". Stones Throw Records. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  7. ^ Bromwich, Jonah. "Karriem Riggins: Headnod Suite Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  8. ^ Swartz, Tracy. "Common wins Emmy to move closer to EGOT honor". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  9. ^ "Karriem Riggins: True Virtuoso by Dale Coachman". Archived from the original on October 15, 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Stones Throw Podcast 74: Karriem Riggins Produced That". Stones Throw. June 21, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2012.