Auckland City Limits organiser Campbell Smith says he spent "the entire weekend" trying to persuade Young Thug to perform at his festival.
The Atlanta rapper was booked to play this weekend's Western Springs festival but pulled out when his Australian visa fell through.
But he still had a visa allowing him to play in New Zealand, and Smith said he tried to persuade the rapper and his management to still make the trip.
"I wanted him to play the show - it's why we booked him," Smith said.
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"It was particularly disappointing because we got a visa for here, we worked really hard and got it, we got it three weeks ago.
"I spent pretty much the entire weekend trying to get him and his people to say, 'Okay, we'll go to New Zealand alone. They just wouldn't do it."
Young Thug has been replaced by Scribe and P-Money, and while Smith agreed the acts were "incomparable", he thought the Kiwi rap duo would still be crowdpleasers.
"There's something attractive about Scribe getting up there and banging out Not Many. It's not the same, and that makes it okay."
Other acts on the bill for Saturday's festival include Justice, Beck, Grace Jones, Phoenix and Future.
Smith recommended punters prepare to try out everything the site has to offer, including a mini festival for kids, plenty of boutique food and drink options, checking out art dotted around the space and "sit under a tree and relax".
"This isn't a concrete space in Penrose," said Smith, the former promoter of the Big Day Out. "We're presenting a miniature version (of) your life in a city."