Pharrell Pulls Something In The Water Festival From Virginia Beach, Citing “Toxic Energy” And The Police Killing Of His Cousin Donovan Lynch

In 2019, Pharrell Williams brought the inaugural edition of his Something In The Water festival to his Virginia Beach hometown. Pharrell headlined that first festival himself, performing with a succession of surprise-guest collaborators that included Jay-Z, Diddy, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, and Tyler, The Creator. That first festival might be the only Something In The Water festival that ever comes to Virginia Beach. The festival planned to come back for 2020 and 2021 editions, but they were both cancelled because of the pandemic. And now, Pharrell says that he won’t hold Something In The Water in Virginia Beach again because of the city’s “toxic energy.”

Pharrell’s problems with the Virginia Beach leadership are intense, political, and personal. As WAVY reports, Pharrell’s 25-year-old cousin Donovan Lynch was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer this past March. The officer didn’t have is body camera turned on during the shooting. Police claimed that Lynch had “brandished a weapon,” while his family claims that he was legally permitted to carry a gun.

At a celebration of Lynch’s life in April, Pharrell said, “Virginia Beach, you need to talk. Talk about your issues, talk about your struggles, so we can get past them. The misinformation, the mischaracterizations and — forgive me — but it took the mayor a week to reach out this family.” Pharrell also called for a forum so that Virginia Beach officials could discuss “who we are and who we’d like to be.”

In a letter to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney yesterday about his decision to pull Something From The Water from Virginia Beach, Pharrell mentioned Lynch’s homicide and a 2019 mass shooting that left 12 people dead:

I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by and with toxic energy. The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times around the homicide of my cousin, Donovan Lynch, a citizen of Virginia, is the same toxic energy that changed the narrative around the mass murder and senseless loss of life at Building Number 2…

Until the gatekeepers and the powers-that-be consider the citizens and the consumer base, and no longer view the idea of human rights for all as a controversial idea… I don’t have a problem with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either.

In a response to Williams, Duhaney wrote, “Before any final decisions are made, the Mayor and I would like to fully understand the sentiment that has brought us to this point. With great humility we hope that you and Festival leadership might be willing to meet with us in person to discuss our partnership.”

According to Duhaney, the first Something In The Water festival brought about $41 million into Virginia Beach. Before its cancellation, the 2020 edition was set to feature acts like Pharrell himself, a reunited Clipse, Post Malone, Foo Fighters, Beck, Migos, Usher, A$AP Rocky, and Tyler, The Creator. Right now, there’s no word on whether Pharrell plans to stage Something In The Water in another city.


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