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Mixtape Detroit: Nolan the Ninja, Bonny Doon, and Karriem Riggins



2017 is in the books, and Detroit Music Magazine has put together the annual "best of" lists.


Guiding us through some highlights are Paul Young, founder and publisher of Detroit Music Magazine, and executive editor, Khalid Bhatti.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.

Nolan the Ninja - “Exodus” from YEN

MC/producer Nolan the Ninja hails from Detroit’s west side. Nolan came of age when southern influences began creeping into mainstream hip hop and rap, yet, he “was still reminiscing over the raps of Jay-Z and Nas and Wu Tang Clan,” Young said.

YEN, Nolan the Ninja’s third album, was ranked third on Detroit Music Magazine’s best albums of 2017. Bhatti sees Nolan’s evolution as a lyricist and producer on this album, evidence that his prolific output is paying off. “He expands his sonic palette and welds all these influences from all over the map,” Bhatti said.

“Exodus,” a track featuring fellow Detroiter, Jaye Prime, shows off this range with “dreamy” vocals that aren’t always associated with classic hardcore hip hop, Young said. Exodus is the third ranked track on DMM’s best songs of 2017.

Bonny Doon - Relieved” from Bonny Doon

BonnyDoon’s self-titled debut album has an alternative folk sound not typically associated with Detroit. The four-piece is a collection of musicians from other local bands like Tyvekand Growing Pains, but their sound departs from those groups’ garage punk aesthetic, Bhatti said. Their laid back vibe can be heard on the song, “Relieved,” DMM’s sixth ranked track of 2017. “It could be in California that you’re hearing this,” Bhatti said, “or off the coast of New England, but really, it’s off the coast of the Detroit River.”

Karriem Riggins - “Suite Poetry” from Headnod Suite

KarriemRiggins’ collaborations have taken him far and wide. His 2017 album, Headnod Suite, marks a return to solo work. The record, which comes in at 29 tracks, does not fall squarely into any musical category. “He’s able to bridge worlds, mostly jazz and hip hop,” Bhatti said, “but connects them in ways that are so thrilling to hear.” The son of renowned keyboardist, Emmanuel Riggins, Karriem forged a path of his own, working with numerous local and international legends along the way. “Suite Poetry” is DMM’s tenth ranked track of 2017.

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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