YBOR CITY — A heavily anticipated rap concert was canceled Saturday night, spurring fights and amped-up police presence in the streets of Ybor City.
The free concert by a controversial Broward County rapper, XXXTentacion — Jahseh Onfroy, 19 — attracted a crowd that reportedly approached 1,000 to the Orpheum, at 1915 E Seventh Ave.
Onfroy, a performer in the "emo rap" and "SoundCloud rap" movements, announced the free concert earlier this week via In-stagram and Twitter.
Fan videos show a black BMW carrying the rapper pull up to the Orpheum before being swarmed by fans whose force broke a side mirror off the car.
The concert promoter could not be reached for comment, but according to Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty, the promoter canceled the show "based on the number of people that were showing up." Officers soon came to break up the crowd.
Fan videos and photos show dozens of Tampa officers, at some points standing in a line to block or move parts of the crowd. At least one officer carried what appeared to be a less-than-lethal beanbag shotgun.
When asked how police responded to control the crowd, Hegarty said, "I can't tell you what the officers were carrying . . . but there were no injuries, no transports and no arrests."
After the cancellation, Onfroy posted a series of videos to Instagram in which he said: "Tampa, my deepest apologies, I drove all the way down here, I drove four hours just to basically have the show canceled on me. Apparently because it was over capacity, there was at least 3,000 to 4,000 of you outside, and . . . the venue only could support 750. As far as the new free show, I'm going to try to and get a free show going, but that was the only venue that wanted to work with me, but you just bear with me, I'm going to try to work this out. For now the show is canceled, not due to my choice, it was just the venue, and the fire marshal said we could not do the show, so the show is canceled, I apologies, my deepest apologies."
By 9 p.m., most of the crowd had dispersed except for some disappointed fans standing around, deciding what to do next.
Manuel Leal came with friends to the show in hopes of seeing his first concert, so the cancellation came as a big disappointment. But the night was young.
"We're just going to make the most of it," he said. "I mean, we're in Ybor City."
Onfroy has attracted attention for his behavior outside the studio. He has been hit with charges ranging from armed home invasion to aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. More than one of his shows has involved altercations with a fan and ended in a near-riot when things didn't go off as planned, including an April show in Miami.