“I said “no” to the Super Bowl. You need me, I don’t need you.”
Those were the words Jay-Z rapped on 2018 hit ‘APESH*T,’ referring to the widespread rumor that he turned down an offer to headline the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Now, with fences mended and Hov now in business with the NFL to co-produce the performance spot, he’s opening up about his initial refusal and how the current deal came about.
Speaking in a profile feature with the New York Times, Jay revealed that when he was asked to headline, a specific request was made by organizers to bring along Rihanna and Kanye West to perform ‘Run This Town.’
He wasn’t impressed. Not because he wouldn’t have invited his Roc comrades to his set, but because of the specificity of the demand. Jay explained:
“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.”
With Jay’s Roc Nation imprint now co-producing the show, many are wondering how that deal came about.
According to Jay, it was Patriots owner Robert Craft who identified a problem when NFL booked Maroon 5 for the Halftime Show in 2019 – a year it took place in Atlanta, one of Hip-Hop’s most celebrated cities. As history would have it, Adam’s Levine and co’s performance was panned in earnest and not even a shoe-in’ed guest spot from OutKast‘s Big Boi could help.
Realizing the major disconnect, Kraft – who also heads up the NFL’s Media Committee – arranged a meeting with Jigga and subsequently helped facilitate a follow-up sit-down with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The latter of which brought about the present deal.
Recalling his initial conversation with the NFL – which is largely made up of Black players – Jay said:
“The problem with the NFL. 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,”
The new deal that is about much more than co-producing Halftime, but also includes the ‘Inspire Change’ initiative – which mandates that the NFL will spend $100 million over the next 10 years on social justice outreach and causes.
It’ll also see the NFL fund a sponsored TV spot during the Super Bowl highlighting the plight of black men and boys killed by police. A campaign of many to come.
Naturally, there’s ample interest to hear Jay’s take on the critique levelled against him from cultural cornerstones, several of whom have cited the league’s ongoing saga with Colin Kaepernick – whose Black Lives Matter kneeling protest has seen his career effectively benched. Well, Mr Carter obliged, sharing:
“No one is saying he [Kaepernick] hasn’t been done wrong,” Jay-Z said. “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?’”
Suffice to say, it’s clear Jay is taking the “change from within approach” – which we imagine will appeal to some but frustrate others. Especially in this social and political climate.
Ahead of tonight’s Halftime Show, which features Roc Nation’s Shakira alongside Jennifer Lopez, what are…