JAY-Z and Beyoncé remained seated as Demi Lovato sang the National Anthem at the 2020 Super Bowl last Sunday. The move was initially seen as an act of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, but now JAY-Z has revealed that wasn’t the case at all.
Speaking at Columbia University yesterday, Jay was asked whether the Super Bowl move was one of protest. “It actually wasn’t sorry,” he replied. The rap mogul then went on to explain that the two had gone into “artist mode,” and were concerned with the audio and technical aspects of Demi’s performance. “So I’m really just looking at the show. Did the mic start? Was it too low to start? Is there too many speakers on the floor?”
He continued to explain that they would never stage a political protest in front of their daughter. “And if anyone knows Blue. If we told her we were going to do something like that, you would’ve seen her tapping me a hundred times. She would say, ‘What time? Are we doing it? Are we doing now? Are we doing it now?'”
What’s more, as JAY-Z and his Roc Nation imprint collaborated with the NFL to co-produce the Super Bowl halftime show, he said that silent protests weren’t necessary — the diverse range of artists selected to perform (Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny) was a way of making “the loudest protest of all.”
Watch the interview below.
When the partnership between Jay, Roc Nation, and the Super Bowl was announced, many viewed it as a betrayal of Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback whose 2016 as a protest against social injustice cause him to be blackballed from the league. In an Instagram Story, Kaepernick highlighted the confusing optics of JAY-Z’s protest. “I thought we were ‘past kneeling’ tho?” he asked.
In another recent interview with the New York Times, JAY-Z acknowledged that the NFL wronged Kaepernick. “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?’”
Jay told the Times that he could live with the criticism if he is able to use the NFL’s platform to convince white football fans that they too should be concerned about police brutality. This is the balance he is attempting to strike by curating the halftime show and protesting the National Anthem at the same event.
In the same interview, he revealed that he had turned down the opportunity to perform “Run This Town,” at Super Bowl LII, provided he enlisted Rihanna and Kanye West. “Of course I would have,” Jay revealed. “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.”
He explained that the higher purpose behind his Roc Nation-NFL partnership is to get inside the establishment to better represent and advocate for people of color and try to foster a nationwide cultural dialogue. As an associate, Juan Perez (the president of Roc Nation Sports) put it. “Somebody has to kick in the door and get shot first. We’re that company. We’re not afraid.”
Watch JAY-Z and Beyoncé sitting down in the video below.
Head over to New York Times to read the full interview.