Pharrell pulls Something in the Water from Virginia Beach after his cousin was killed by a police officer
Pharrell held the inaugural edition of his Something In The Water festival in April of 2019 in his hometown of Virginia Beach, with Missy Elliott, Migos, Pusha T, SZA, Janelle Monae, J Balvin, A$AP Ferg, Rosalía, Mac DeMarco, Diplo, Travis Scott, Leikeli47, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Jhene Aiko, Kaytranda, Lil Uzi Vert, Maggie Rogers, Virgil Abloh, and more. The fest was scheduled to return in 2020, but was ultimately cancelled because of COVID. Now it seems uncertain that the festival will return at all; if it does, it likely won't be to the same location. WAVY Pharrell sent a letter to City Manager Patrick Duhaney on Tuesday (10/5), blasting Virginia Beach for its "toxic energy."
"When we did the festival," Pharrell wrote in the letter, "it was to ease racial tension, to unify the region, bring about economic development opportunities and broaden the horizons of the local business community. We achieved those things! I wish the same energy I've felt from Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would have been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative's life."
The relative Pharrell refers to is his cousin, Donovan Lynch, who was shot by a Virginia Beach police officer in March. The officer involved didn't have his body camera on, and WAVY reports, "Police claim Lynch brandished a handgun before he was shot, and a gun was found at the scene. Lynch’s family argues Lynch could legally carry and wouldn’t have brandished a weapon."
"I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by - and with toxic energy," Pharrell continued in his letter. "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."
Pharrell's letter was in response to one sent by Duhaney on September 29, where he expressed "immense disappointment" upon learning the festival might not return, and said, "Something in the Water made an enormous impact on Virginia Beach and catapulted the city into the national and international spotlight. Positive mesages of inclusivity and togetherness were heard, seen and - most importantly - felt." He also brought up the "record-breaking economic success" of the festival.
Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse told WAVY, "There is no understanding about what [Pharrell] might mean by [toxic energy] but again just take a look at our city — we have a lot of work to do. We must face our issues head-on."
Read WAVY's report in full here.