By Callie Lawson-Freeman | Special To THE OBSERVER
There’s a new premier event in town for lovers of afrobeats, reggae, R&B and more.
Music festival Lost in Riddim will bring some of the most popular African and Caribbean artists to Sacramento on Oct. 2-3.
Having already accomplished success with Sol Blume, an annual R&B festival, Jehu “Manny” Hunter and Fornati Kumeh could have set their sights on any major city for their next project. But the festival founders are long-time Sacramento residents with a fondness for the city.
“Home is where the heart is, and there’s no better place to express yourself,” Kumeh told The OBSERVER. “We’ve lived here most of our lives. We want to build something special here,” Hunter added.
Lost in Riddim boasts two heavy-hitting headliners — Wizkid and Burna Boy.
Additional performers in the lineup include Tems, Goldlink, Rotimi, Mr. Eazi, Tiwa Savage, Koffee, and many more.
“There are festivals that don’t exist in big cities that really make that city, and bring people that normally wouldn’t visit on the regular,” Kumeh said. Already making headlines for its star-studded lineup, Lost in Riddim has the potential to fit that description.
Initially slated to take place at Cesar Chavez Plaza, the festival had to be moved last month to The Railyards District due to overwhelming ticket demand. The new location increases capacity for the inaugural event by more than double, and while VIP is sold out, general admission two-day passes are still available for $160 (plus taxes and fees).
The impressive ticket sales for the event could be credited to the increasing mainstream popularity of afrobeats and caribbean music.
“It feels good to see African music finally get the credit it deserves and grow to the mainstream audience,” Kumeh said. “A lot of popular non-African artists are starting to take inspiration from the genre. I think it only propels everyone involved.”
Day-one performers Wizkid and Tems released what has been dubbed the song of the summer, “Essence,” which became such a hit that pop star Justin Bieber decided to hop on the remix. Both artists have also collaborated with leading rapper, Drake. Day-two performer Shenseea appeared on “Donda,” Kanye West’s latest album, twice.
At its core, Lost in Riddim is a celebration of African and Caribbean music and culture being produced by two first-generation West Africans — an idea born from the weekend parties the founders attended with their parents growing up.
“It was crazy to see how lost they were in the music despite everything they probably had going on around them: immigrating from their home country, a civil war, trying to make ends meet,” Kumeh said.
“Fast forward to the festival, we definitely want people to sort of experience that same thing. Two days where people can just forget about everything and be immersed in the music, the people around them, and the environment.”
While the goal is to get lost in the rhythm, festival goers should still attend with a plan.
Each day is packed with performances from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and guests are not granted re-entry once they exit. There is also no outside food or drink allowed, but local vendors will be present at all times. An extensive list of prohibited items include blankets, towels, chairs, non-see through bags and several others.
Kumeh and Hunter have brought a similar, albeit smaller, experience to Sacramento inspired by the same idea for about four years. Lost in Riddim looks to build on what Irie Nights at Harlow’s has already accomplished — a reggae and afrobeats focused escape.
“Building a festival felt like the next step and the best move. With lockdown and being in quarantine, we had a lot of time to really brainstorm and plan out the next steps,” Kumeh noted.
But with the pandemic still lingering, the festival is taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure maximum safety. Attendees will not be admitted without proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of the event.
Those that can’t attend this year can remain hopeful for the future. Kumeh says the founders don’t intend on the festival being a one-time thing. “We definitely want to create a brand and build it, and explore all opportunities with it,” he said.
More details on festival policies and ticket sales can be found at: https://lostinriddim.com/pages/info.