Pharrell Williams is pulling his Something in the Water music festival from Virginia Beach, citing “toxic energy” in the city.

Something in the Water hit Virginia Beach, Williams’ hometown, for the first time in 2019. Performing alongside surprise acts such as Jay-Z, Diddy, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, and Tyler, The Creator, Williams himself headlined the inaugural festival. The 2020 festival was postponed because to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Pharrell explained his reasoning for pulling the festival out of Virginia Beach in a personal and politically-tinged letter to City Manager Patrick Duhaney. Williams’ 25-year-old cousin Donovan Lynch was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer in March. His letter details his pain and frustration with his hometown, and declares that “toxic energy” runs the city.

“I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by and with toxic energy,” wrote Williams in the 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. 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.”

Read more in TheGrio.com.

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