Fyre Festival co-organiser Ja Rule. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By AVA TURNQUEST
and KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporters
AS the chaos surrounding the failed Fyre Festival in Exuma caught international headlines over the weekend, “mortified” co-organiser Ja Rule denied Friday the claims that the luxury music festival was a scam.
The American rapper, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, told The Tribune that he was heartbroken and confused by the ordeal but was focused on the safe departure of all guests and facilitating refunds.
Ja Rule regretted that he and his partner, tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland, pumped $20 million into the event, and “everyone hates us for it.”
“Heartbroken is an understatement,” he wrote to The Tribune via WhatsApp.
“I’m mortified at what those people had to go through, me and my partner Billy are very upset. We spent $20 million to make this event special and everyone hates us for it.
“But I’ll live with that,” he said. “God knows my heart and intentions were in the right place. Now I just want everyone to get home safe and get refunded.”
Ja Rule stressed that the total breakdown experienced by festival-goers was not his fault, but he committed to accepting responsibility for the debacle.
In an earlier message, he wrote: “We are working right now on getting everyone off the island SAFE, that is my immediate concern.
“I will make a statement soon. I’m heartbroken at this moment. My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event. It was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting.”
He continued: “I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded ... I truly apologise as this is NOT MY FAULT ... but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”
In a video sent to TMZ, an American entertainment website, Mr McFarland put the blame on the event’s failure to poor infrastructure in Exuma.
He said organisers set out “to build a festival site” and “quickly learned that the basic infrastructure in place here was not what we are used to in the United States.”
He claimed organisers had to install water and sewerage and bring an ambulance from the US.
He also claimed the event site was hit by a storm hours before the festival, which he said took down tents and broke the site’s water system. He also admitted organisers needed “more manpower” and help.
He said all guests are being refunded and claimed the event will be held next year at a beach location in the US. He also said organisers will donate $1 on behalf of each person who signs up for the 2018 event to the Bahamas Red Cross.