“Of course I would have [performed with them],” said Jay-Z, “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.”
In the summer of 2019, Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation partnered with the NFL, giving the rapper say in who performs at important NFL events, as well as influence in the NFL’s “Inspire Change” initiative, which according to their promotional materials, promotes “education and economic advancement, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform.”
The partnership received backlash as some saw it as Jay-Z turning his back on football player Colin Kaepernick, famous for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of the treatment of African Americans by law enforcement.
“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,” the rapper said, hoping white football fans will develop concern over police brutality as well.
Jay-Z also shrugged off criticism that the deal was made with purely economic motivations.
“We didn’t say, ‘Let’s go make some money off the NFL,” Jay-Z said.
In 2018, performers including Rihanna and Cardi B turned down the opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in solidarity with Kaepernick. Pink also said she was approached for the event, but turned it down, saying she’d “probably take a knee and get carried out.”