Promoter Patrick Allocco of AllGood Entertainment has been the unwilling guest of the African nation of Angola since two scheduled New Year's Eve concerts by rapper Nas failed to materialize. Allocco and his son, Patrick Jr., have been detained in the country since then over a money dispute with the local promoter.
Accounts vary as to exactly what happened to result in the Alloccos' continued detention, but they remain under "house arrest" while the U.S. State Department and Angolan officials work out the dispute.
Publicist Ron Grevatt forwarded an "open letter to the concert industry" on February 1 to tell Allocco's side of the story, which follows.
An Open Letter to The Concert Industry
One month ago, my son and I were abducted at gunpoint, taken into custody, and interrogated for nearly seven hours in a 100 degree, fly-infested building: all because a rapper named NAS and an opening act, Jemiah Jai, failed to board their flights to Angola for a concert I had arranged and promoted, despite the fact that they'd received payment in full. During the interrogation, I was handed my cell phone to call NAS's management; I used the opportunity to text my location to the local American Embassy. They had been looking for us all day, since at the time of the abduction I called them and left the phone open during the ambush. The Embassy security detail and the Vice Consul quickly arrived at our detention facility and removed us to the safety of the Embassy. My son and I spent New Year's Eve in an undisclosed safe house, while NAS performed in South Beach for Lebron James' Party--instead of in Angola, as agreed.
On New Year's Day, the Embassy arranged for two tickets to Dubai and escorted my son and me to our Emirates flight. After clearing security, our passports were confiscated and we were told that we could not leave the country, due to a criminal investigation. We were now under "de facto detention" in Angola, because of two no-show acts.
When the story broke on TMZ, I contacted a friend at Live Nation and told him that "this might be a good time for Live Nation to help get us out of here." He responded, "You have a better chance of Santa Claus coming down there to save you." Thus, my question: where has the concert industry and entertainment industry been for the past month?
Our issues here in Angola transcend any solitary "deal gone bad" appearance that this incident might have invoked. Indeed, our continued captivity should shine a spotlight on freedom of safe passage for any traveling artist, actor, musician or crew - the world's ambassadors of good will. Unbeknownst to us, our visas were improperly issued to us by the local promoter, so upon entry to the country we were immediately deemed "illegal" and our passports were confiscated (the first time) at immigration. We could not have fled the country if we wanted to. Every move was a set-up by the local promoter and his "friends in government" to ensure that we could not exit the country unless he was satisfied with the outcome.
To be certain, this was not the first time this has happened. I have since learned that 50 Cent, DMX, Fat Joe and others have experienced similar treatment. Promoters Howard Pollack and David Osborn were also detained for prolonged periods; the latter was abducted with a machine gun in his mouth and dragged to a holding room.
Please do not think that this is a money-related issue. It is not. The promoter has written three letters to Osborn stating that even if the Allocco's pay back all of the money, they are going to "rot in Angola jail". This is entirely about making an example out of us for all of the agents who have pocketed nearly 7 million US dollars from this Angolan promoter without sending the acts. The most recent example is R. Kelly. Kelly was paid $750,000 by this promoter last year; Kelly's people alleged a breach of contract and consequently did not perform the date (but kept all of the money). An agent took a $1 million deposit for Beyoncé; she turned down the offer, but the agent kept the deposit. These are the true reasons why we are still here.
This was not our first international event. We have promoted events in Tobago, Mexico, Dubai, South America and San Juan; while each place had its own challenges, none exploited local corruption and government connections to hold the act, crew or promoter hostage (well, perhaps Mexico). My point, however, is that when a situation like ours arises, the industry needs to lend its collective voice to help bring the matter to a safe resolution. I could be any other promoter with any other act. What my son and I have lived through for the past month is unconscionable. The concert industry and entertainment industry as a whole should should protest vociferously that this sort of behavior towards a promoter or an act will not be tolerated. I call upon each of my colleagues to boycott Angola until my son and I are returned home safely and until Angola recognizes the rights of musicians, artists and promoters to travel without fear of safe passage and without fear of personal harm.
February 1, 2012