The Kennedy Center

Nappy Riddem


Nappy Riddem brings the familiar rhythms of reggae, hip hop and the Caribbean to new levels of soul, traversing the soundscape with songs of freedom, tribulation, love and happiness. Founded in 2009 by well-known vocalist Mustafa Akbar and DJ Rex Riddem, they released their first album One World Sovereignty on the Fort Knox Recordings label in 2011. The debut album received international radio acclaim, was featured by High Times and Okay Player and has been remixed by some of the hottest producers.

Nappy Riddem is a global project and influences can be heard from their backgrounds in Trinidad, Brazil, South Africa, and Europe.  All of the members met in Washington, DC and their love for Chocolate City funk is what ties it all together.  Nappy Riddem forged their sound in the middle of DC’s vibrant live music scene, playing shows, touring and collaborating with Fort Knox Five and Thunderball.  Members of Nappy Riddem can be regularly found performing with Thievery Corporation, See-I, Asheru, Funk Ark and Congo Sanchez, among others.

The Nappy Riddem sound has developed into its own brand of “Dancehall Funk” that moves bodies, hearts and minds.  On lead vocals is Mustafa Akbar with his silky soulful voice and engaging presence in front.  Rex Riddem plays electric ukulele, percussion and vocals, and Jon Modell is on drums. 

The show has a familiar reggae vibe with moments of hip hop, world beat and Philadelphia soul, moving from club bangers like Angle It to songs of social justice like One World Sovereignty. In the tradition of such inspirations as Bob Marley, a live Nappy Riddem show seeks to move bodies, hearts and minds.

Sharpening the sound and the show in just about every major club and venue in the DC area, the band is now heading out for a rigorous national touring schedule. Having hit spots in the mid-Atlantic, Texas, California and even Brazil in the past, they are putting together runs in Colorado, the southeast, northeast and the Midwest with plans to return frequently and build a following.

Supported by the Fort Knox record label, they come backed with in house public relations and a seasoned, dedicated promotional machine. Numerous videos and online originals as well as remixes, featured below, give music writers and fans plenty of material to engage with before the band arrives.

A new EP is scheduled for release in .... and will provide a new wave of excitement and press as the band sets out to unite all people within the Riddem.

In addition to performing as a live band, Nappy Riddem also manifests in the DJ Sets of Rex Riddem, as a trio with live PA vocals and drums, in the Glitch-hop remixes of Jonny Ruzany (drummer Jon Modell) and in collaboration with other EDM artists in DC and around the world.

"Music is music. Anyone can make music. If you have the people you want to make music with, then you can make music." (Robert Nesta Marley) - that's one half of this group's philosophy. The other half? "Keep it Nappy".

Watch Past Performances

Video 2/12/2014: Listen Local First D.C. presents Nappy Riddem

A D.C. favorite, the 6-piece, uplifting and conscious reggae band started by Mustafa Akbar and Rex Riddem has developed its own brand of “Dancehall Funk” that moves bodies, hearts, and minds.

Nappy Riddem