According to WAVY, the producer and festival founder has cancelled this year’s Something In The Water, claiming the city has ignored the producer’s proposals for social justice initiatives. Pharrell is likely referring to the Listen Learn Love VB coalition, a group formed by the producer in 2019 to “fast-track the diversity and inclusion conversation” and “rebrand Virginia Beach as a sanctuary for human rights.” This organization failed to gain traction in the city when a group of business owners in Oceanfront rejected its messaging. Earlier this year, in the same section of Virginia Beach, 25-year-old Donovan Lynch, a cousin of Pharrell, was murdered by a Virginia Beach police officer who accused him of “brandishing a weapon.” The account has been disputed by Lynch’s family, who claimed he was licensed to carry a weapon.

In a letter to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney (see below,) the producer said his hometown was “run by – and with – toxic energy.” He goes on to explain how that energy distorted narrative behind the murder of his cousin. Duhaney responded to the producer’s letter with his own. “Before any final decisions are made, the Mayor and I would like to fully understand the sentiment that has brought us to this point. With great humility we hope that you and Festival leadership might be willing to meet with us in person to discuss our partnership,” Duhaney writes, citing the sizable economic impact of the festival.

During its inaugural run, the line-up included performances from Pharrell, JAY-Z, Missy Elliott, Charlie Wilson, Tyler The Creator, Usher, Snoop Dogg, and more.