Jay-Z Explains Partnership With NFL, Speaks On Colin Kaepernick: No One Is Saying He Hasn’t Been Done Wrong
To say Jay-Z ruffled feathers when he signed on to be the live entertainment strategist for the NFL is an understatement. Jay-Z partnered with the league in the heat of controversy as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick still hasn’t been offered a contract with the NFL since he started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality in 2016.
Now that Jay-Z has the first Super Bowl (which was ironically between Colin Kaepernick’s former 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs) in his new role under his belt, he’s speaking out about his experience, past, and present, in working with the NFL.
He addressed speculation that he turned down a chance to be the coveted halftime performer because the NFL wanted him to bring Rihanna and Kanye West with him to perform their hit collaboration “Run This Town.”
Jay-Z told The New York Times,
“Of course I would have, but I said, ‘No, you get me.’ That is not how you go about it, telling someone that they’re going to do the halftime show contingent on who they bring. I said forget it. It was a principle thing.”
New England Patriots owner and the head of the NFL media committee Robert Kraft, reportedly contacted Jay-Z after the league signed on Maroon 5 to perform during the halftime show in one of the nation’s hip hop capitals, Atlanta, in 2019. Jay-Z said he told Robert Kraft,
“The problem with the N.F.L. is you all think hip-hop is still a fad when hip-hop has been the dominant music form around the world for 20 years.”
It wasn’t long after that conversation that Jay-Z inked his partnership with the NFL, which sparked lots of criticism, especially from Colin Kaepernick’s longtime girlfriend Nessa Diab.
That criticism continued when Colin Kaepernick and Nessa Diab appeared to slam Jay-Z and Beyonce for sitting during the national anthem Bey and Jay attended Sunday night’s Super Bowl (Feb. 2).
They referenced Jay-Z’s statement in September of being “past kneeling” when he addressed the criticism he received for his partnership with the NFL despite Kaepernick not being signed to a team.
Still, Jay-Z also told The New York Times that he’s not bothered by the criticism if he can bring the issue of police brutality to the NFL’s non-minority fans. He continued,
“As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press.”
As for Kaepernick, Jay-Z added,
“No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’”
It’s still not clear how much mone Roc Nation will bring in as a result of linking up with the NFL. But Jay-Z said,
“We didn’t say, ‘Let’s go make some money off the NFL.'”
“Focusing on social justice is the nature of how we grew up,. The people we sign — 75 percent of them, at least — grew up in poverty. When one of us gets signed, it doesn’t end our connection to the ’hood or the streets. Our lives are still there, our cousin still needs a lawyer, our mother still can’t make the rent. This is real life.”
He used rapper Meek Mill, who was arrested on gun and drug charges back in 2007 and released from probation last year, as an example and said,
“Meek’s got eight guys who could pull him back. I said, ‘Meek, you are going to go back with them, or you need to bring them with you.’ So he reaches a hand back and pulls them with him. That’s social justice: It’s how we help a person help their community and help themselves.”
Still, others like journalist Jemele Hill still aren’t convinced Jay-Z made the right move. She said, according to The New York Times,
“I feel like Jay-Z is giving them way too much of his cultural capital that they have not earned. There has always been this tension of, ‘Will progress be made from working from the inside?’ The things that Jay-Z is trying to accomplish, he doesn’t need the NFL to do.”
What are your thoughts on Jay-Z’s comments? Tell us in the comments!