Photo: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / Getty Images
  /  05.01.2023

After much anticipation, Pharrell Williams’ Something In The Water festival returned to its rightful home of Virginia Beach, Virginia. After last year’s brief stint in Washington D.C., the multihyphenate creative brought his three-day extravaganza back to his hometown. Although miserable weather delayed the first day and canceled day three, the beachside bonanza was still a spectacle for over 50,000 music fans. With over 50 confirmed acts spanning the three-day lineup across two stages, the Walmart-presented event was primed for success.

Friday (April 28) and Saturday (April 29) were jam-packed with stars like Polo G, Kaytranada, Latto, Coi Leray, Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, and many more. Unfortunately, the severe weather prevented fans from being able to experience top acts like Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Durk, and many others. Although the festival had many of the industry’s premier stars, Pharrell’s Phriends — and precisely who they would be — dominated the conversation on social media. After rumors of who would pop out during the multiplatinum phenom’s set, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, A$AP Rocky, and fellow Virginia native Chris Brown set the beach ablaze. Though it was challenging to choose, REVOLT highlights five of the most sensational moments during 2023 Something In The Water festival below.

1. Pharrell’s Phriends gave music fans of all ages an experience to enjoy

Pharrell Williams is regarded as one of the best artists and producers ever. Therefore, his Rolodex of superstars is vast. The GRAMMY award-winning icon started his set with a medley of his hits before deciding to bring out hip hop legends like De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. Shortly after, he brought out artists like Chris Brown, A$AP Rocky, Coi Leray, M.I.A., Lola Brooke, and Latto to give the younger generation something to party to. The energy was at an all-time high to close out a star-studded day two.

2. Music, art, wellness and law all came together during free community events

There was no shortage of impactful community events surrounding the festival this weekend. On Thursday (April 27), The Urban League of Hampton Roads and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art partnered with Walmart to present “A Seat At The Table: An Arts & Culture Experience” in celebration of Pharrell’s third rendition of Something In The Water. The art exhibit included live performances and an impressive panel moderated by Stephanie Walters, featuring prominent community figures discussing the importance of supporting the BIPOC agenda. 

The RnB Block Party was a three-day experience open to the community for free! The exciting event hosted hundreds of R&B lovers each day. Virginia legend and co-founder of the event Nathaniel “FamLay” Johnson said, “Virginia is the pulse of the culture. It’s our home and our community. It’s only right that we brought Something In The Water back to where it all began” when asked about the importance of the festival. On day two, The Washington D.C. chapter of the Recording Academy presented Norfolk State University with a $10,000 check to help aspiring artists at the HBCU push toward their dreams of making it in music. 

On Friday and Saturday of the festival, Black Girls Tennis Club and World Street Soccer partnered to present PLAY. The fun experience hosted dozens of guests of all ages. Kimberly Selden, a co-founder of Black Girls Tennis Club, exclaimed, “We are a community organization, so to be able to have a presence at SITW and bring our community together to expose them to beach tennis, have fun, and play… We value the importance of hobbies and believe sports can catalyze radical joy and wellness.” Fellow co-founder and wife of Pusha T, Virginia Thornton, added, “Just like Black Girls Tennis Club, PLAY is something we organically thought of with the World Street Soccer team while discussing the need to unplug, let go and embrace imperfection. Having PLAY at Something In The Water gives festival and beachgoers an interactive spot to do just that!”


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3. The women of hip hop shut it down 

It’s no secret that women are running hip hop at the moment. Doechii shined on day one during her energetic set on the Solar Stage. Her powerful crowd control was displayed as she stunned fans with her moves and music. Coi Leray showcased her elevation as a performer during her Solar Stage set on day two before coming out as a surprise with Busta Rhymes to perform her viral smash “Players.” 

Shortly after, Latto came with a statement performance that further proved why she is one of the hottest artists in hip hop. Her musical director Carrington Brown said, “It was an amazing feeling as a DMV [native] to come to SITW. My goal is always to bring it home and that ‘it’ can be resources, relevance, or something as simple as a good time, so with Pharrell setting that stage, all Latto had to do was show up and deliver. Not only was it an amazing experience, it was fun.” Latto used her platform to turn up, but she also performed her track “P**sy,” which is a song that speaks directly to the fight to preserve women’s rights. After her performance, she snuck around to the photo pit to sign autographs and take photos with fans.

4. Lil Wayne brought out “Mixtape Weezy” during his day two set

Lil Wayne is one of the best rappers of all time. His expansive catalog runs deep with a career that started over two decades ago. Fans of the superstar MC were treated to an hour-long set fitted with a slew of hits and a few classic mixtape cuts sprinkled in between. The gracious legend used his time to thank everyone in attendance and the festival staff for their participation during the festivities. Lil Wayne was all smiles while on stage in what feels like the well-deserved victory lap segment of his career. 

5. Something In The Water merch was in high demand

With Pharrell recently being appointed as Louis Vuitton’s creative director of menswear, fans were elated to have a chance to get their hands on some exclusive merch. Louis Vuitton’s limited-edition apparel collaboration with SITW featured a checkered denim jacket, graphic hoodie, and three T-shirts. Pharrell did not design these pieces, but they were created to pay homage to his roots without hinting at the direction their new director will take the brand.

Something In The Water has a fantastic track record with apparel. Also, fans were able to get their hands on merch collaborations from Adidas, Star Trak, Billionaire Boys Club, Virginia is For Lovers, and more during the two-day event. There was not a single moment during the festival where the merch stand was not packed. 

Something In The Water had high moments, but unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. Wu-Tang Clan, Clipse, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Durk were slated to perform on the festival’s last day. Pharrell took to Twitter to promise “more acts, more merch, more food… just more” ahead of next year’s Something In The Water Festival. Although it ended earlier than expected, he was thankful to everyone who came out and looks forward to planning a way to avoid similar weather issues in 2024. 



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