It was billed as an event where history would be made. Instead, this past weekend's History In Tampa (H.I.T.) Festival made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Late last month, Florida-based promoter Vybe Nation and popular hip-hop website WorldStarHipHop announced the inaugural Nov. 7 event with big name headliners Nas and Lil Wayne, billing the show as "the largest hip-hop event to take place in the South." And with an undercard lineup featuring vets like DJ Khaled, Yo Gotti, Fabolous, Waka Flocka Flame, Trae Tha Truth and Jim Jones alongside up-and-comers August Alsina, Tink, Shy Glizzy, iLoveMakonnen and Troy Ave, the festival had the talent to draw plenty of fans into the University of South Florida's 10,000-plus capacity Sun Dome.
But fans who did attend were met by what media reports claim was an unorganized show with long, aimless stretches between scheduled performances. Five artists -- Fabolous, August Alsina, DJ Khaled, Jim Jones and Tink -- didn't perform at all, with Fab and August taking to social media to blame "terrible business" from the promoters; the New York MC, who had traveled to Tampa for his set, called out Vybe Nation by name for having "no money to pay anyone. But a arena full of people."
Both Nas and Wayne -- the latter ended the show -- performed their headlining sets, however, which Vybe Nation emphasized in an Instagram caption posted Saturday night before making both its Twitter and Instagram accounts private as the backlash rolled in. "Tried to do something HISTORIC today, fell short of our goals," the caption began. "[W]asn't able to accommodate everyone who was supposed to be taken care of, & probably went WAY to big with the idea, but we did however put 2 ICONIC LEGENDS on the same stage, in a city that most of the entertainment industry considered obsolete or inferior."
And despite the concert being presented by Vybe Nation in partnership with WorldStarHipHop -- the site's founder, Lee “Q” O’Denat, released a statement in the show's official press release and was supposed to be the media partner -- WorldStar's banners were conspicuously absent from the arena, and its Twitter feed, which boasts over a million followers, didn't post a single mention of the festival. On Monday, a rep for the site distanced the company from H.I.T., categorizing it as disorganized when staff arrived.
"WorldStarHipHop was indeed scheduled to co-present Vybe Nation's H.I.T Festival in Tampa this past weekend, however we made the difficult decision to withdraw from the partnership on the day of the event when Vybe Nation failed to deliver on their sponsorship agreement," said a WorldStar spokesperson in a statement released to Billboard. "We apologize to all of our fans who left the festival in disappointment but we plan to make it up to them in the near future."
Billboard's multiple attempts to contact Vybe nation and its CEO, Neal Carter, have gone unreturned as of press time. "[M]ost won't appreciate it, & 99% of the people won't understand how hard we worked & fought to even get the little bit of achievement that we even got," the promoter's Instagram caption continued.
The festival was the first foray into the live event business for WorldStar, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.