This month’s Artist Spotlight pick (March 2021) is an artist named Riaga [pronounced REE-Ah-Guh]. To preface, I will state that Riaga is a close friend of mine who I affectionately refer to as “RiRi”[pronounced REE-REE]. That being said if it sounds like there’s some positive bias in this post, that’s because there is.
Riaga has been actively in the Colorado music scene for nearly a decade and has been rapping for even longer than that. He’s an audio engineer with a degree from the Denver Art Institute, and over the course of the last couple of years, he’s become a beat maker as well. He accompanies Lance Mijares and Stephanie Monge, as a host on the racially woke “Blatino Podcast”, is an activist and advocate for racial equality being mixed Nigerian and Peruvian, and has done some public speaking as well.
Over the course of his career he’s released several projects and singles that have rang through the streets of Colorado. The most Notable Songs from his career thus far have been: Blocka, Pray For The Weak, Y.N., and It’s The Gang (feat. Hyp3), however there have been many more gems throughout his releases.
He’s also known for coining two frequently used terms: “Oh look, it’s the gang” and “This is Important”. Both phrases have become staples in his career as merchandise, tags in his songs, and in particular, “This is Important” was the name of an EP he released back in 2020 as well.
Needless to say, the man has put in some considerable work.
More recently, on Feb. 24th 2021 he released another work called “The Quiet Kid” or “TQK” for short.
TQK has been regarded as a much more personal and vulnerable piece of work than we’ve gotten to see from Riaga in his previous works.
The project begins with him as a youth being incredibly quiet amongst his peers in school, which we hear on the opening skit “Attendance”. From there he gives a clear overview of what he understands now to be the reasons for being less audible in his youth, and even gives some insight to the consequences of the silence, not only for him, but for his teachers as well.
While the project begins with the song titled “The Quiet Kid”, about a shy, quiet, and insecure Riaga, it quickly takes a turn to being what you can imagine were many of the things he’d wanted to say in his youth, but didn’t.
His regular style is very similar to raw 90’s east coast music and he exercises it with tact and precision on the records that come after “TQK”. Their names are “Because of You” and “Dangerous”. Bars like, “You brought your bandanas with you? What’s that supposed to mean/Me and my N****s were masked up before quarantine” and “Try to make me a lowercase, I’ll run up your capital like white privilege”, showcase his in depth comparisons, similes, and metaphors, while keeping that aggressive style detailed above.
From there things get more personal with a song called “Used to Know”, featuring myself, discussing old relationships and the process of cutting ties with old friends/lovers.
Finally enter “Man in desperation” which discusses the taboos surrounding mental health, and the idea of therapy from a male perspective. In his cased as a mixed man.
Did I mention that he made all the beats, mixed, and mastered it himself? No, well now I have.
TQK is an honest and vulnerable journey that’s a delight to be apart of. Classic samples ring all throughout it and draw your attention with each time you hear them.
If you enjoy artists like, Busta Rhymes, Joe Budden, Jay Rock, Jedi Mind Tricks, Celph Titled or most anything east coast, you’ll enjoy Riaga.
Unfortunately due to the heavy sampling in TQK, it wasn’t released on any major platforms, but it did secure a nice little nook on the popular mixtape service “Audiomack”. You can listen to it here.
You can follow him on all social media at: [at]yosoyriaga