Nappy Riddem
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Nappy Riddem

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | INDIE

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | INDIE
Band EDM Reggae


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"SXSW: Empresarios and Nappy Riddem"

Besides all that goodness, Empresarios’ labelmate on Fort Knox Recordings, Nappy Riddem, will be playing the 4th Cut showcase with fellow DC bands Funk Ark and Frank Mitchell Band, both of ESL Music. All three will be joining Empresarios at the SXStrangeBoot showcase on Thursday.

We remind you again to check out the best of the nation’s capital while it’s in ATX. No [Reagan] National Airport full body scans required. (Unless of course, you like that kind of thing.) - The Vinyl District

"Quick SXSW Guide"

Quick SXSW Guide
I will not be attending the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas this year. However, a number of artists covered in this blog, and some that will doubtless be appearing in the future will be there. As such I'm putting together this quick run-down of some of these shows. Clearly I am not posting every show by every act that is of interest to me, I don't even have all the information. Have info for me? Send it by email or post it in the comments. Will be more than happy to add to the list.

Nappy Riddem at Copa - Culture Remixed

"25th Annual WAMA award's"

Nappy Riddem nominated for best Performing Artists in the Electronica category. - Washinton Area Music Association


It was truly a sight to watch kids evolve throughout the evening. Previous to that point they had been treated to the dub of local Fort Knox Five affiliated artist Rex Riddem and ambient trance with minimal and progressive hip house remixes of opener Emancipator. The crowd appeared to be filled with slackers vibing out, having conversations and meandering about the venue, the music wafting between the people setting a laid back atmosphere to the room. When Bassnectar assumed the turntables, the mood changed. His manager took the microphone and stated rules for the proceedings. - Brightest Young Things


This week one of the most aurally potent acts in recent memory, Bassnectar are at 9:30 Club on Wednesday night, and having physically seen their live performance with drums and a DJ at Electric Zoo, and having heard about their set at Burning Man, there's a full expectation of face melting joy taking place at the venue. Rex Riddem, locally affiliated with the always terrific Fort Knox Five is opening, and makes coming to the venue a bit earlier than expected completely worthwhile. - Brightest Young Things


Rex Riddem is a percussionist with the Thunderball Sound System, who were there at the start of Fort Knox back in 2003 in Washington DC. This new release was the result of Rex going on a trip to Brazil and finding himself in the capital of the ‘African’ state of Bahia, Salvador. Located on the northern coast, it’s the centre of Afro-Brazilian culture and the birthplace of samba.

The ‘Riddem’ mix of ‘Salvador Diaspora’ is a gentle funky samba with some muted trumpet in the middle with the softly voiced Carlos Scorpiao. There’s a little accapella break in there and towards the end and a Carlos Santana style electric guitar solo gets in. Diaspora you’re thinking? But it works surprisingly well on a chill level and it’s got it all in there for the remixers to take it to the next ‘dancefloor’ level. -


Rex Riddem is a percussionist with the Thunderball Sound System, who were there at the start of Fort Knox back in 2003 in Washington DC. This new release was the result of Rex going on a trip to Brazil and finding himself in the capital of the ‘African’ state of Bahia, Salvador. Located on the northern coast, it’s the centre of Afro-Brazilian culture and the birthplace of samba.

The ‘Riddem’ mix of ‘Salvador Diaspora’ is a gentle funky samba with some muted trumpet in the middle with the softly voiced Carlos Scorpiao. There’s a little accapella break in there and towards the end and a Carlos Santana style electric guitar solo gets in. Diaspora you’re thinking? But it works surprisingly well on a chill level and it’s got it all in there for the remixers to take it to the next ‘dancefloor’ level. -

"Fort Knox Five feat. Afrika Bambataa & Mustafa Akbar "Shift""

Fort Knox Recordings, distributed through DC mainstay Dischord Records, to release their material, as well as a wonderful mix of Afrobeat, roots reggae and funk artists like Empresarios, Nappy Riddem and frequent collaborators See-I.

As the name implies, The New Gold Standard 2 is the second compilation from the label's impressive roster, and features four new Fort Knox Five tracks. Among them is a fantastic electro funk joint with Bambataa, the genre's Godfather, and Mustafa Akbar. "Shift" is a dance floor burning throwback that finds Bam and Akbar trading lines over a stomach-churning bass line and swirling blips, bleeps and guitars.

"Fort Knox Five – Shift feat. Afrika Bambaataa & Mustafa Akbar (Video)"

While Barack Obama was being sworn in as President, the Fort Knox Five teamed up with electro-funk innovator Afrika Bambaataa and Mustafa Akbar to create the funk anthem Shift. Originally released on the 2009 compilation The New Gold Standard 2 - Urb Magazine

"The New Gold Standard 2"

Nappy Riddem also has a couple tracks on here. You may not have heard much about this collective, even though the name has been kicking around for a couple years. In terms of its members, Nappy Riddem is a lot like the other acts on this compilation. It's a collection of some of DCs funkiest talents, from Rob Myers, Mustafa Akbar, Asheru, Hashish Vyas, and Andy Fahs, to Frank Mitchell, Ralph Real, and half of Riddem's namesake, Rex Riddem. Their sound on "Rastar" is like a mash of heavy 70s soul-funk and Fort Knox Five with a skank rhythm base. Rastar is the bands second released single. On "One World Sovereignty" they take on a more reggae based sound, but don't drop the thick, funk vocals, even though a few more backing singers are brought into the chorus. This is one for Best Seven and soul-reggae fans out there. Really nice. -

"The New Gold Standard 2 Remixed EP 2"

The opening track is Nappy Riddem's "One World Sovereignty" remixed by J. Boogie, and it has a certain sound that's made it's way into some of the best club-wise remixes I've heard lately. It's almost like a disco rhythm stripped of all its soul and glitter, reduced to the bare essence. On top of that, you've got a layer of rich bass that really leads the sound way more than the traditional synth or guitar might lead a song. The center of focus is the vocal, which stands out nicely against the sparse instrumentation. It's a really nice sound and J. Boogie really got it right on this mix. -

"Fort Knox Recordings presents The New Gold Standard 2 Remixed EP 2 featuring new remixes by J.Boogie, Nickodemus, DJ Sabo, and Nappy Riddem"

Nappy Riddem, the new super group featuring Fort Knox Recordings stalwarts Rex Riddem and Mustafa Akbar, along side Thievery Corporation live-band bassist, Ashish “Hash” Vyas, show the breadth of their new sound with “One World Sovereignty”, featuring Asheru (Unspoken Heard, “The Boondocks Theme”). We grabbed Bay Area Beat Doctor, J.Boogie, to add his signature dubby house flavor to “One World Sovereignty”. With a glitchy bassline, and dub fx reminiscent of Mad Professor, J.Boogie presents this song in a totally different light.

"Editor's Pick"

Local reggae star See-I, electro-funk group Fort Knox Five and ragga-funk artists Nappy Riddem trade off on stage and in the DJ booth at this show, which showcases some of the District's best (and funkiest) dance artists on the city's most killer sound system. As the music plays, VJ John Bowen of the Video Killers projects visuals.


"Nightlife Agenda"

Art Whino's massive 'G40: The Summit' exhibition -- five themed floors of a Crystal City office building dedicated to art from D.C., New York, California and beyond -- is worth a visit itself, but if you need an extra reason to go, try this: An all-ages concert by local reggae-house band Nappy Riddem (listen) featuring members of Eighteenth Street Lounge projects. You'll hear them turn roots reggae into remix-friendly electronic music for the dance floor while Mustafa Akbar's vocals soar over the grooves. After the band performs, founder Rex Riddem hits the DJ booth to spin funky cross-cultural mashups. -

"Night Fever: Reggae Edition at Scoot Inn, 9/18"

This time they’re bringing a bit of the islands to Austin with the reggae edition, featuring Washington DC’s soul-reggae duo Nappy Riddem. They’re even throwing in special guest el john (Thievery Corporation) on percussion - Seesaw Austin

"Nappy Riddem: Original Rastars"

Mary Ishimoto Morris

Riddem and Mustabar (formerly Mustafa Akbar) greet each other with a fist bump and “Nappy Riddem!” before settling down jovially for conversation at Current Sushi. As Nappy Riddem the two create “psychedelic raggafunk” with a warm, laidback upbeat vibe.

Rex Riddem aka Troy McLean grew up in suburban Maryland listening to his parents’ funk, soul and Motown, records before moving on to hip-hop, ‘60s rock and reggae while attending Sidwell Friends and Maret High School. In the mid-‘90s he got hooked on electronic dance music at Catastrophic, Fever and Buzz parties and was inspired to learn to deejay on his roommate Buster’s turntables. As DJ T. Rex, he spun hard techno as part of the legendary Snowball Collective.

Riddem took up the djembe, then congas, and started drumming live while Buster deejayed at Jaded at Red thrown by the Thunderball/Fort Knox Five guys.

When Riddem visited Brazil in 2002, he got turned on to percussion intensive Afro-Brazilian music. He later returned to study percussion at a samba school in Salvador, befriending class translator Carlos Scorpiao, who sang vocals and played guitar on Riddem’s first produced track “Salvador Diaspora”.

“Brazil was really moving because their national identity and tourism push Afro-Brazilian music — rhythms from Africa, the Caribbean — Afro-Latin rhythms, part of the culture displaced African people brought with them mixed with European melodic structure. The mix of reggae, dub and Brazilian we do is new world diasporic. It’s taken on a life of its own with any type of musical influence being accessible.”

Riddem’s DJ adventures include a residency at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, and gigs in Hawaii, Portugal and Brazil. Riddem is a resident at Metro in Roanoke, has worked as an executive producer and manager, and currently books at Policy.

Mustabar grew up in Philadelphia spending summers with his grandparents in Lignum, Virginia. His mother was a nurse and his father a “truck-driving gospel vocalist.” Mustabar was singng gospel at age five, in local glee clubs, and got into hip-hop, reggae and the Philadelphia international soul sound.

Mustabar moved to DC in 1985, landing a job as doorman at Red and singing with DC reggae band the Soul Defenders, then to Lignum in 2002 (where he hosts the annual Mustock Music Festival, July 30-August 1, Akbar has released two independent funk soul solo albums titled “Natural High” and “That Day,” and is well-known as Eighteenth Street Lounge’s doorman.

One night outside Red, Thunderbolt/Fort Knox Five member JonH heard Mustabar singing and exclaimed, “Wow, man, you can sing!” JonH asked if he’d be interested in working with his mates Steve Raskin and Sid Barcelona. Mustabar says, “Our first endeavor was ‘Heart of the Hustler’ and we’ve been family ever since.”

“Mustafa quickly became an integral part of the Thunderball sound and live band,” says Raskin. ”We met Rex and he began playing percussion with Thunderball. Thunderball has been the nexus for their creative growth and it’s great to see them launch their own project. Mustafa has the spirit of Curtis Mayfield reincarnated, and I love Rex’s take on Afro-Latin-funk rhythms. Rex’s production with Mustafa’s vocals combine for a unique twist.”

With Thunderball, Riddem and Mustabar toured North America, Russia and Mexico, and got to record with Afrika Bambaataa.

Their first release, “Nappy Riddem,” coincided with James Brown’s passing and became a shout-out to the Godfather of Soul. With almost a dozen tracks ready including “Rastar” and “Devil Need a Bodyguard,” they’re aiming for a year-end album release. Contributors include vocalist Asheru, Thievery Corporation guitarist Rob Myers and bassist Ashish Vyas, with remixes by Empressarios and Ancient Astronauts.

Mustabar says, “‘One World Sovereignty’ is always a crowd pleaser.” “When we performed it at Earth Dance last year,” says Riddem, “the amazing response solidified it as our closing song.” Nappy Riddem plans to tour Brazil this fall.

Says Mustabar, “Nappy Riddem is a representation of Rasta lifestyle, like the locks, but you don’t have to have locks. ‘Nappy’ was meant to be derogatory. No one wanted nappy hair because they believed it wasn’t good hair. We’re dispelling that, embracing who we are and inviting everybody to be down with nappy. Just free up and be yourself.”

“Anybody can be nappy,” grins Riddem.

It’s clearly contagious. “People overjoyed by your music — the reward in that is so great,” says Mustabar. “You can’t buy that.” - On Tap Magazine


"Nappy Riddem" EP 06/30/2009 Fort Knox Recordings
"Rastar" EP 11/10/2009 Fort Knox Recordings
"One World Sovereignty" 11/17/2009 Fort Knox Recordings (on "the New Gold Standard 2" compilation)



Nappy Riddem is the ragga-soul electro-funk supergroup formed by Rex Riddem, Mustafa Akbar, and Ashish "Hash" Vyas. The trio are a unique combination of longtime collaborators with independent music industry stalwarts Afrika Bambaataa, Thievery Corporation, Thunderball, Fort Knox Five, See-I, and Gogogo Airhart, and Dust Galaxy. Nappy Riddem was recently nominated for a Washington Area Music Association award as 2010 best performance artist in electronica. Separately Rex, Mu, and Hash have traveled the globe performing and making friends they refer to as their creative family. Together the Nappy Bros just recently finished a year of sold out shows, headlining the Night Fever Wax Poetics Scoot Inn Austin, opening for Bassnectar at the 9:30 Club DC, a CD release party for their label mates Los Empresarios at U st. Music Hall DC, as well as the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Just off of playing 3 showcases during SXSW, Rex Riddem is putting the finishing touches on Nappy Riddem's upcoming album and fighting his urges to go snowboarding while his bandmates tour the Rocky mountains as support for the Fort Knox Five, and See-I. Due to be released August 20011, on Fort Knox Recordings, The three draw from their comon love of everything diasporic, creating a unique sound that blends the sultry soul of Akbar's voice, Hash's dubby basslines, and Rex's funky beats with latin percussion. Their recent releases, deemed "groovy" and "awesome"by Steve Aoki, are featured on Fort Knox Recordings "The New Gold Standard 2" compilation featuring guest appearances by Asheru, of the Unspoken Heard and Boondocks theme song. Nappy Riddem's sound, which the affectionately call "the Riddem Method" has even traveled as far as Budapest, recieving regular airplay on Hungary's FM 90.3 as well as nationally on NYC and Seattl'e KEXP.

Rex Riddem (producer, vocals, percussion, dj) is known for his ability to traverse local and time through his eclectic tastes in music. Born and raised in Washington, DC, on the grounds where President's educate their kids, Rex started DJing in the electronic dance scene. Now with over 17 years experience in the industry, Rex's mix of reggae, soul, and latin funk mash-ups combined with electronic, and hip hop flavors has earned him the respect and adoration of DJs and fans throughout the globe to Brasil, Russia, Portugal, Hawaii, St. John, Mexico, and across the continental U.S. including Las Vegas where he held an eight month residency at Mandalay Bay. Rex Riddem's debut single "Salvador Diáspora" was licensed to several compilations, with Brazilectro 7(Auidopharm) at the top of the list. As a percussionist, Riddem has recorded with Afrika Baambaataa, Thunderball, Fort Knox Five, Holmes Ives, and Randall Jones. During the winter of 20011 he toured with the Thunderball Soundsystem as support for the Pretty lights tour.

Mustafa Akbar a.k.a Mustabar (lead vocals, producer) is known for his flavorful marriage of City Slicker with Country Charm that affords him his distinct sound. He's from Philly, with roots in the Caribbean, but also spent his summers in the woods of Virginia, where his familiy's ancestral land resides.This complex background has made it difficult to place this unique artist in a neat box, or categorize him under one genre. His sound; an exotic, soulful blend of sophisticated edgy rock, mixed with hip-hop flavored funk, allows an effortlessly flow between the many musical projects he is a part of: electro funk band, Fort Knox Five (Fort Knox Record- ings), reggae soul collaboration: Nappy Riddem (Fort Knox Recordings) and Thunderball (ESL Music) – whose song, The Heart of the Hustler, was recently featured on the hit Fox television show, Lie To Me. Mustafa is currently touring with the Fort Knox Five, and Thunderball while helping to finish the Nappy Riddem album.

Ashish "Hash"Vyas (bassist), while most recognized as the bassist for Thievery Corporation, is also a founding member of influential, underground post-punk outfit GoGoGo Airheart (1996–2006) which released five records, several EP’s and Singles on the legendary Gold Standard Labs record label (GSL Records, co-owned by Omar Rodriguez of The Mars Volta). He toured the US, Canada, and Europe throughout GoGoGo Airheart’s career. Beginning in 2004, he’s been working and touring all over the globe with production duo, Thievery Corporation and can be heard on several tracks off the Radio Retaliation (2008) release. Through their independent label ESL MUSIC, he has worked and toured with Federico Aubele, Natalia Clavier, and Dust Galaxy and Frank Mitchell Jr.