Ja Rule’s Fyre Festival, billed as a ritzy, model-studded Bahamas Coachella with luxe accommodations on a private isle, turned out to be an abandoned tent camp next to a Sandals resort. People showed up to Fyre’s “festival grounds” on Thursday night to find a barren wasteland — and then they found out they couldn’t leave. The irate attendees, who had paid up to $12,000 to cosplay in cabanas as 2007-era Joe Francis, used their social media accounts to complain, ask for help, and demand refunds.
For those who weren’t stranded hashtagging cheese sandwiches in the Lucayan Archipelago, social media became a joyful place, a forum to celebrate the pure thrill of the fact that the poor man’s 50 Cent had used fraudulent #sponcon from Emily Ratajkowski to lure a bunch of aspiring Dan Bilzerians to a remote island. Ja Rule looked, for a moment, like Instagram’s very own P.T. Barnum, a sucker-swindling huckster who had fulfilled the prophecy he’d gruffly sung the decade prior: I’m not always there when you call. Some festival goers reported that they were physically barricaded in a hot room to the point where several people required medical attention. This part, obviously, is not funny, but the overall premise of the wealthy getting swindled into a fake festival was irresistible fodder for digital schadenfreude. To top it all off, Ja Rule hadn’t even been present during the chaos, and went silent as complaints continued to roll in and reports about his tech-entrepreneur business partner’s other unscrupulous ventures targeting rich millennials came to light.
Then, finally, Ja broke his silence on Friday afternoon, using every celebrity’s favorite medium for public apologies: his phone’s Notes app.
I never thought I’d say this after playing “I’m Real (Remix)” approximately 15,700 times on Spotify in my life, but this is Ja Rule’s masterpiece. Observe his decisions to use caps lock for emphasis. First, he emphasizes the word “SAFE” to denote that he is not a monster and that he does not actually want anyone to be hurt. Second, he highlights that the event is “NOT A SCAM.” That’s a very important thing to clear up, even though it is exactly what someone who is running a scam would say. Every good scammer knows that admitting to the scam is the quickest way to ruin a scam. Did Ja Rule choose to highlight this phrase as a knowing wink? Hard to say!
Next, he emphasized the phrase “NOT MY FAULT.” Please note that Ja does not place emphasis on the words “I’m sorry” or “responsibility.” Instead, he takes care to stress that, whatever confluence of circumstances occurred to turn his music festival from the first half of The Beach (fun, druggy, sexy tropical nonsense) into the second half of The Beach (white people screaming to be let off an island), he had nothing to do with it. If something is not a person’s fault, they normally do not apologize for it, which underscores the note’s overall tone of obligatory contrition.
This apology is unlikely to satisfy any of the poor souls wandering around bartering crop tops for leftover prison cheese, but it is a brilliant PR move from Ja. Creating an elaborate populist con to inconvenience the rich, humiliate Gigi Hadid, and make Twitter bearable for a Friday afternoon in spring is the greatest goodwill gesture any of the Murder Inc. squadron has ever pulled off. Not only did Ja Rule bring joy to the internet, he reminded it he existed and exposed the fraudulent underbelly of the Celebrity Influencer Economy all in one go. Then he went ahead and apologized for it without really apologizing for it, giving himself plausible deniability for his stranded fans without totally destroying the fantasy that he’d masterminded this glorious mess.