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Lil Wayne, Strawberries & Creem
Via Instagram/@strawberriesandcreem

Lil Wayne banned from UK ahead of his headlining festival show

The rapper’s appearance at Cambridge’s Strawberries & Creem would have been his first UK show in 14 years, but the Home Office has other ideas

Lil Wayne has been pulled as the headliner for this weekend’s Strawberries & Creem Festival in Cambridge, after being denied entry into the country by the Home Office. Billed as the UK comeback of the Grammy-winning rapper (real name Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.), the festival slot would have marked his first performance in the UK for 14 years.

Carter’s visa application was refused by the Home Office in a “last-minute decision”, according to a statement from the festival organisers. “We have received very minimal notice, and the timing of the decision is of course upsetting for all involved – including Lil Wayne’s fans, as well as the festival team.”

As reported by the BBC, the Home Office doesn’t routinely comment on individual cases, but said: “Any individual who has been sentenced to a custodial sentence of 12 months or more must have their application refused.”

In 2010, Carter was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to gun possession, following his arrest in 2007, when a gun was found on his tour bus. He also faced up to ten years in prison for a federal weapons charge in 2020, but was pardoned by Donald Trump in the final hours of the former president’s administration.

Since the last-minute decision was announced, many Lil Wayne fans have taken to social media to express their outrage, and to call out Strawberries & Creem for its handling of the issue.

Reportedly, the festival isn’t offering fans refunds, despite the fact that some forked out more than £200 just to see him perform for the first time in over a decade. Instead, organisers have offered free tickets for the second day of the festival, on June 19, or a discount on next year’s tickets. 

Ludacris is set to replace Lil Wayne as the Saturday headliner, playing a “UK exclusive” set.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that the Home Office has blocked a leading hip hop artist from performing in the UK. Back in 2015, the government infamously banned Tyler, the Creator as well – more bizarrely, in Tyler’s case, he was denied entry due to lyrics on the years-old albums Bastard and Goblin. If anything, though, that only stoked the excitement of UK-based Tyler, the Creator fans, leading to chaotic scenes when he finally returned in 2019.