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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Ja Rule addresses the elephant in the room: Fyre Festival

At a recent concert, the rapper encouraged his fans to curse at him for his role in the failed event

American rapper Ja Rule was heavily involved in organising the April 2017 Fyre Festival. David Goldman / AP Photo
American rapper Ja Rule was heavily involved in organising the April 2017 Fyre Festival. David Goldman / AP Photo

At a concert in New Jersey, United States, last Friday, Ja Rule finally said out loud the thing everybody's been thinking: "You might be a little mad at me."

He was referring to his role in the disastrous Fyre Festival, as he essentially co-produced the April 2017 event alongside its founder Billy McFarland, who is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for numerous counts of fraud, including for his part in the Bahamian debacle.

It all began when Ja Rule and McFarland teamed up to promote an app called Fyre that the rapper was working on. It was designed to allow people to book talent more easily. As one former employee explains, Fyre was meant to be "the Uber of booking talent".

Ja Rule (left) and Fyre Festival organiser Billy McFarland. Courtesy Netflix
Ja Rule (left) and Fyre Festival organiser Billy McFarland. Courtesy Netflix

Both Netflix and Hulu recently aired documentaries about the fall-out of Fyre Festival. Since then, the American rapper, born Jeffrey Bruce Atkins, has distanced and defended himself, claiming he was yet another victim, a person who was scammed just like the rest of those involved.

Until now, that is. At his concert last week, the Livin' It Up singer actually encouraged his fans to curse at him. He stood onstage and, after asking who watched the documentaries, told fans to throw expletives at him, and to get it out of their systems, "cause we ain't gonna do this ... for the rest of the year!"

Back in 2017, when Fyre Festival was finally revealed to be a sham, Ja Rule initially apologised. "Relieved to share that all guests are safe, and have been sent the form to apply for a refund," he wrote. "Our deepest apologies..."

The 42-year-old has been vocal about the fact that he, too, was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray!" by McFarland.

Fyre Festival has been dubbed "the greatest party that never happened". There is an ongoing investigation into what happened to the $26 million invested in the failed event.

Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Emily Ratajkowski are among those expected to face subpoenas over millions of dollars made in payments to models and influencers to promote it over social media, thus inspiring thousands of people to buy tickets worth between $5,000 and $250,000 (Dh18,000 and Dh920,000).

Updated: February 4, 2019 11:24 AM

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