Considering that he’s one of the co-founders of the failed music festival that imploded all over social media in 2017, you’d think that after Fyre Festival, Ja Rule would be just as much of a story as his fellow co-founder Billy McFarland. But the rapper, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, played a smaller part in the media storm that followed the festival and in the new rival Fyre documentaries, currently streaming on Hulu and Netflix (at least compared to McFarland). His Fyre Festival co-founder is currently serving a six year sentence in prison for fraud, but Ja Rule has moved on, mostly. In 2017, he tweeted a statement shortly after the event claiming that he was not responsible for the fiasco (a statement he continues to stands by). Later, in September of 2018, before McFarland went to prison, Ja Rule told Revolt TV that the idea for Fyre Festival, the “luxury” music festival that became one of the biggest pop culture fails of 2017, was “beyond brilliant” and that he is “not ashamed of Fyre at all.”
Though the rapper didn’t give any interviews in either Netflix or Hulu’s competing Fyre Festival documentaries, he did elaborate on his side of the story in that Revolt TV interview. According to Ja Rule, he was the man with the idea and McFarland was supposed to be the one who executed (and as the story goes, didn’t execute) the follow-through. “It wasn’t what I dreamed it of being and what I envisioned of it being and what I wanted it to be,” Ja Rule said. “It wasn’t done properly … People didn’t really know I had anything to do with the festival until it went wrong. And then it was like, ‘Ja Rule’s festival!’ It was my idea, my vision to do this. And I’m no way, shape or form ashamed of my vision of what it was to do this. I wanted to create something amazing.”
“Amazing” is definitely not how any Fyre Festival attendees would describe the now infamous weekend. While the event was described as a high-end luxury experience that would place on a private island in the Bahamas that was once owned by Pablo Escobar (literally — that’s what the promo video claimed) over “two transformative weekends," it quickly devolved into chaos. Despite tickets prices from $1,000 to $250,000, when people arrived on the island, disaster relief tents had taken the place of luxury tents and the advertised gourmet meals famously turned out to be styrofoam boxes with slices of cheese and plain lettuce (something Ja Rule told Revolt TV he thought it was “funny”). The festival was promptly canceled after people arrived on the island to find that nothing was set up and basic amenities like running water and transportation were not available.
Though there are multiple class action lawsuits being filed against Fyre Media, Ja Rule and McFarland over the ordeal, the rapper has not faced the same kind of backlash as the incarcerated McFarland (to be fair, McFarland was convicted for his own business dealings, which included counts for defrauding investors and creating a fake ticket service for luxury events like the Met Gala, an event for which tickets cannot be purchased). According to Rolling Stone, in July, Ja Rule was actually removed from one of the lawsuits in which two Fyre Festival attendees won $5 million after he and his lawyer made another agreement.
The rapper has also started his own company, which appears to be a similar idea to the Fyre app — which was meant to allow users to book musicians directly through the app, unique functionality that McFarland had hoped the Fyre Festival would help promote. Ja Rule’s app is called ICONN, and Ja announced it on social media with the tagline “Book your OWN shows... Be your OWN boss... Become an ICONN...?.” (Yes, a few folks have noticed some similarities between Ja Rule’s idea and McFarland’s failed one.) But aside from that oddity, Ja Rule is back to what he was known for before Fyre Festival: his rap career. He’s on tour in 2019, hitting up cities in and around the East Coast until February.
As of now, the rapper hasn’t publicly faced any major ramifications for his involvement with Fyre — other than ridicule on social media, which its own unique form of punishment.