Billed as “the biggest show of the year,” the “Rip the Runway Fashion Show” and the “T.I. Welcome Home Party” ended up being more of a rip-off, according to attendees.
The May 22 show held at the Monroeville Convention Center was to feature clothing from T.I.’s new clothing line, Akoo, in addition to other urban wear by Argyle Culture, Coogi, Apple Bottom, Pastries and Rocawear.
|VIP?—Those with VIP tickets got to see the rapper T.I. at a distance and fans tried to get photos and talk to him.
Local artists, including the dance group, District 78; Mano y Mano; Black and Gold Boys; Undalords; Lady Homi; Boaz; Streetz; Clark Kent: Kid Klash; Quizzle the Cannon; Waan Santiago and Danielle Yvonne, performed as models strutted across the cat walk. However, T.I. never performed and didn’t show up until after midnight. The show was billed to be from 9-11 p.m.
Fans were left stunned and furious. Tionna Washington of Plum said the event was a real rip-off. “This was no meet and greet,” she said. “There were no free drinks or free food, as promised, and that’s what we paid for in the VIP. Now we’re being kicked out.”
Former WAMO deejays were in the house with DJ Boogie on the ones and twos, and J-Kruz as emcee. Seats ranged from $35 for general admission up to $200 for VIP seating, which was to include access to the meet and greet and after-party, free food and alcohol. There was no age limit set on any of the billings. The after party was to begin at 11 p.m. and end at 2 a.m.
The program, which started late, was advertised to have a performance from T.I. and other Grand Hustle artists but after the fashion portion of the show, things seemed to take a different turn. At about 11:45 p.m., Kruz announced that anyone under 21 would have to leave the building, as the Convention Center had a policy against anyone underage in the facility after midnight. At that point things seemed to get quite chaotic. The audience of about 1,000 began disbursing, some leaving the venue, others heading toward the VIP and after-party area, thinking T.I. would perform there. It was reported that some who were asked to leave were in tears as they had paid their money and didn’t get a chance to see the rapper. They weren’t alone. No one got to see T.I.—perform that is. T.I. never came on stage. In fact, none of the clothing from his new line was even modeled.
It’s unclear as to why the self-proclaimed “King of the South,” did not perform or show off his clothing line. Show promoter, Camille Clarke, founder of CCV Productions, said there was a ?misunderstanding between management.? Clarke said he did not bring any clothing to be shown. Attempts to reach T.I.’s reps for comment were unsuccessful.
The rapper, however, did make an appearance around 12:20 a.m. Nearly hidden by his sea of bodyguards and Convention Center security, T.I. made his way into the VIP area, having no interaction with the crowd of fans gathered to welcome him home. Once in the VIP room, he posed in a corner still surrounded by his entourage, and began texting on his cell phone, laughing and chatting with his crew, completely dissing fans, who had paid extra for a meet and greet. Fans gathered as close as possible and were able to snap photos of the rapper and his crew.
During this time, Clarke, in an adjacent room, announced there would be no after-party and apologized for the event not going as planned. She offered refunds, directing patrons to visit her website for information. This announcement was met with grumbling and boos from fans. One angry fan shouted profanity toward the rapper as he began leaving the venue. It was shortly after that that security began ushering those remaining out of the facility.
As attendee Tyreese Coor of Monroeville left the venue, he said the situation was ?jive? adding, ?T.I. is a hell of an artist. It’s a shame that the politics of business have to get in the way of entertainment.?
The following day, Clarke apologized on Facebook, one method used to heavily promote the event. She said that T.I. was supposed to be at the event between 10 p.m. and midnight, but didn’t arrive until 12:30 a.m. She also said that the rapper had received a death threat, which was why the venue was cleared out early. However, Monroeville assistant chief of police, Doug Cole and Convention Center general manager, Lance Rihn, who was present during Saturday’s show, said they had no reports of any death threats, or other incidents, pertaining to the event. Rihn said from a security standpoint, the evening went off without incident. Cole said there was no Monroeville police presence at the venue.
Other patrons blamed the sour turn of events and low attendance on poor promotional planning and bad publicity due Pittsburgh not having an urban market radio station, others faulted the artist. Many felt regardless of the reason why T.I. didn’t perform, he could have addressed fans. ?We were the ones who made him who he is,? shouted one irate fan.
Chaz Wilburn of New Kensington paid $200 for a VIP suite that was to include seating close to the stage, access to the meet and greet along with free food and alcohol. Wilburn expected the suite to include a private, secluded booth inside the VIP area. But that was not the case. The VIP room only held a few scattered tables. There was nothing intimate or secluded about it. “It was ludicrous,” Wilburn said. “I want my money back. They can keep $35 for the general admission price, but I want the rest back.” He said he didn’t mind supporting the local talent with the general admission price and said that that’s one thing wrong with Pittsburgh and a factor to this situation. “There is no unity here. We need to show up when our people hold events.” Wilburn said he didn’t blame T.I. for the fiasco, but he would have liked to see T.I. perform at least one piece or take pictures with fans and sign autographs. “I’m sure he lost a lot of fans that night,” Wilburn concluded.
Rapper Kilo G, of the local group STR8 Money Entertainment, agreed saying the situation shows how Blacks have to support other Blacks, referring to the surprisingly low turnout. “I don’t know what happened but people needed to be here to support this event. This is what happens when we don’t support our own ventures,” he said.
Comments left on Clarke’s Facebook page echoed these sentiments. After fans demanded refunds, Clarke then posted a message on Faceb
ook inviting those requesting a refund to e-mail her.
Atlanta rap artist Clifford Harris, who goes by the name of T.I., was recently released from prison after serving 10 months on federal weapons charges. Prior to his incarceration, as part of his community service sentence, he created a TV reality show seen on MTV called “T.I.’s Road to Redemption.” The series focused on the 45 days before rapper’s sentencing in 2009. As one of the program’s producers, he hoped to encourage teenagers to avoid living a life of crime.
If you did purchase a ticket for this event and want a refund, as stated on Clarke’s Facebook status, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, the number and type of tickets purchased, and how they were purchased (cash, credit card, etc.). She asked that patrons keep all receipts and ticket stubs for proof of purchase.