As the world prepares to tune into the Super Bowl on Sunday, Jay-Z spoke with The New York Times to discuss the controversial partnership he established with the NFL last year. Jay’s decision to do business with the NFL following the league’s treatment of former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was met with immense scrutiny, as Kaepernick was famously blackballed from the NFL for kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016 as a form of protest against police brutality. For this reason, Jay’s NFL deal struck many as a form of betrayal.
However, Jay reaffirms that he does, indeed, support Kaepernick, but that it’s time to take some real action. “No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong,” he 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?’” Jay plans to use the NFL’s platform to draw attention to the issue of police brutality that Kaepernick stands for, regardless of how unpopular it makes him. “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.”
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Jay’s partnership with the NFL centers on bringing music and social justice together, which was initiated after last year’s last minute halftime show headliners, Maroon 5, bombed. Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots and chairman of the NFL media committee, reached out to Jay for help. “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,” Jay told him. Kraft then consulted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and convinced him to meet with Jay, which lead to the partnership between the NFL and Roc Nation. Jay and Roc Nation now hold immense influence over the league’s music events, which notably includes the halftime show. One of this year’s Super Bowl halftime show performers, Shakira, is a Roc Nation client herself, and will be joined by Jennifer Lopez during Sunday’s event.