In one of my all-time favorite Dave Chappelle stand-up routines, he discusses celebrity worship and laments on our tendency to care what famous people think about tragic events. He lampooned MTV’s search for a quote from Ja Rule on the events of September 11: “Get hold of this muthafucka so I can make sense of all this! Where… is…Ja?!?”
The routine came to mind the moment I learned the following three things all at once: there’s a thing called Fyre Festival, a two-weekend high-end music and “culture” festival in the Bahamas that’s essentially the bourgie asshole’s Coachella alternative; the festival was a slow-moving train wreck that was canceled the day it started; and Ja Rule was behind its conception.
People shelled out five and six figures to attend something that Jeffrey Atkins conjured up (along with a businessman who wasn’t alive during the first season of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and who apparently has a history of shitbox business deals). Yes, that Jeffrey Atkins. What has Ja Rule organized in the past that qualified him to, in any way, mastermind a multi-million-dollar event aimed at multi-millionaires? A second mortgage on his house? The antibiotics cabinet in said house?
All of the people who dropped $10,000 and up on an event helmed by Mr. “It’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race your car” deserve what they got, and I don’t feel bad for them. Not even a little bit. I don’t care if I were Mark fucking Cuban…learning that Ja Rule – progenitor of early-aughts growl-rap-n’-B whose last noteworthy anything was picking at the guy who effectively ended his rap career on Twitter – was at the helm of a brand new music festival event that demanded exponentially more money than other successful music festivals that have existed for decades would’ve motivated me to do something better with my racks. Like invest in a time share, start an alpaca farm or just set that shit on fire Heath Ledger-style.
Fyre Festival was supposed to be a bacchanalia of sorts featuring Top 40 music acts, high-end lodging and first-class eats. But in a series of moves that would make Joanne the Scammer proud, the organizers didn’t properly pay the talent or the staff and failed to cobble together security, stages, adequate lodging or damn near anything else you’d find at a high school parking lot fair. Hapless idiots took planes from Miami to Great Exuma thinking they were going to step off the plane to glasses of Ace of Spades and immediately get ushered off to gold-adorned bathhouses containing half-naked, beautiful women on some “the royal penis is clean, your majesty” type shit.
Instead, they basically landed on the set of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The “villas” were Costco tents; the gourmet meals were white bread, cheese and salad straight from Rikers Island; and the beautiful island waters were a shark-infested, “Where’s Catlin?” missing-white-girl-on-spring-break national tragedy waiting to happen. The festival’s organization was so clusterfuckish that flights to the island were canceled because it couldn’t physically support the crowd.
The fact that the musical lineup was always unconfirmed should have been enough to scare away festival goers, and the headliners who were promised – including Blink 182, Desiigner, and Tyga – should have given everyone pause: Blink-182 was to headline an event targeting an audience who was under the age of 10 the last time the band had an album that matters. And I doubt even Tyga’s mama would pay $10,000 to see Tyga one more time before he died.
My guess is the rich really went to Great Exuma to rub elbows with the bevy of supermodels in the promotional video, all of whom could walk up to me and do that thing I like to my earlobe and I wouldn’t be able to identify them. They and every other celebrity who promoted the event are catching hell on Twitter – especially Kendall Jenner, who at this point should just hang it up and enroll in a criminal justice program at DeVry University ahead of the inevitable Kardashian bubble burst. I’m sure this won’t hurt Ja’s “brand”, as that would be tantamount to tossing a bag of poodle droppings in a landfill.
Of course, those of us in the proletariat get a kick out of this because it’s easier to feel schadenfreude over the misfortunes of people who have at least five figures to drop on a music festival without paying attention to all those bright, Murder Inc.-stamped red flags. I’ve been utterly amused by the testimonials from the pink shorts-rocking, Lululemon collective that read like a Syrian refugee’s recount of leaving his war-torn country: “Oh-em-gee the locals grazed my arm my life is in danger thank God Trevor had extra space on his private jet to get us outta there!”
(The best testimonial, with the dopest final sentence I’ve read in a piece this year, came from a talent producer who quit and got the fuck out before it fell apart.)
Perhaps the funniest and most absurd part of it is that the Fyre Festival organizers have already announced that they’re going to try it again next year. Sure enough, some of the same rich bozos who got burned this year will give it another shot in 2018, because that’s the privilege of the One Percent. But if Ja bails as an organizer, I hear Carl Thomas and Blu Cantrell have a bit of space in their schedules…