Jay-Z interviews are becoming increasingly rare, so they naturally get mined for every detail. Hova got more than a fair share of criticism when it was announced Roc Nation was partnering with the NFL in 2019, and he, and a gang of his executives, offered more insight into his power play in a new sit down with the New York Times.
For many, the rollout to the Jay-Z and the NFL union was flawed due to a lack of a clear take on Colin Kaepernick, who essentially put his career on ice when he decided to protest police brutality by kneeling before games during the playing of the National Anthem. Don’t be fooled, Kap is still blackballed.
“No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago,” Jay-Z told the New York Times. “But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’”
That rationale is online with what he said during the announcement—(“I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success,” Jay-Z said at a press conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August 2019), which drew the ire of many. However, in the new interview the rapper and mogul said he can take the criticism, adding “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.”
Besides curating its musical endeavors, a major part of Roc Nation’s deal with the NFL is spearheading social justice initiatives. “Focusing on social justice is the nature of how we grew up,” said Jay-Z, who also noted Meek Mill’s probation issues helped pinpoint Roc Nation’s dedication to advocacy. “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.”
Another notable reveal was Jay-Z revealing specifics on why he curved performing halftime of the Super Bowl. He claims he previously turned the NFL down because they wanted him to bring special guests—Rihanna and Kanye West to perform “Run This Town.”
“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,” said Jay-Z. “I said forget it. It was a principle thing.”
The Super Bowl LIV halftime show will feature Jennifer Lopez and Roc Nation’s Shakira as well as a gang of special guests performing at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.
Peep the full Jay-Z interview, which is more like an inside look at all things Roc Nation, at the New York Times.