“I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you
Every night we in the endzone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too.”—JAY-Z on The Carter’s “APESHIT”
What a difference a year makes. In a interesting, albeit strange turn of events, music mogul, and arguably the Greatest Rapper of All Time, JAY-Z made headlines when he partnered up the National Football League for a lucrative deal. That said deal along with his Roc Nation Sports imprint will feature JAY spearheading the NFL’s entertainment events—which includes the Super Bowl halftime show of course.
The partnership comes on the heels of nationwide distain of the NFL’s treatment of former Quarterback Colin Kaepernick being ostracized from the league and their handling of social injustice. Seeing JAY-Z rub shoulders with the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell Was equivalent to Anakin Skywalker getting chummy with Sheev Palpatine (Star War fanboys would know). Over the past few years JAY-Z has been very vocal on and off wax about his opinions concerning the NFL. JAY has been steadfast with Kaepernick and his views on police brutality toward minorities. The rapper even donned a Kaepernick football jersey on Saturday Night Live in support Kaepernick, and even turned down being a performer on the coveted Super Bowl halftime show—a show that his megastar wife Beyoncé performed on back in 2013, and ironically—was the only Super Bowl appearance for Kaepernick as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
What made matters worse for JAY was his reasons for joining forces with Goodell. JAY sat in a boardroom full of executives and went around the room pointing and asking people do you know why Kapernick was kneeling? Hov said it was never about a job, it was about injustice. Which I believe some would agree with JAY, but most would argue that it was the kneeling that has kept Kapernick off a football field and without a job for some 900( and growing) days. JAY, to his credit, has done a lot for social injustice. His stance on prison reform, providing lawyers for people being convicted of crimes, and other philanthropy work should be noted. That’s why this deal with the NFL seems a little ill-advised. Is JAY-Z selling out for his own personal gain? This is also the same man that told fellow music mogul Jermaine Durpi to not partner up with the NFL a year ago only to do the same thing he advised Dupri not to do. Was JAY getting Dupri out the way so he could be the first to secure a deal with his own imprint instead?
Another question is what this means for Colin Kaepernick? Kaepernick is a intricate piece to the puzzle. What doesn’t come up enough is the legal settlement Kaepernick himself had with the NFL for an undisclosed amount. That seems to get thrown to the back-burner when discussions such as these are mentioned. Is Kaepernick okay with the deal JAY-Z had because of his settlement? Not that JAY needs Kaepernick’s approving when discussing his own business matters. Reposts stated that JAY himself had made Kaepernick aware of this forthcoming deal, but according to Kaepernick’s girlfriend Nessa, there was no conversation between JAY and Colin about anything in regards to this deal. Nessa called this move by JAY “disgusting and disappointing.” Many of JAY-Z’s peers (i.e. Nas, Rihanna, J. Cole) have shown their disapproval of Hov’s actions—some directly and other indirectly. Even players in the league have raised their eyebrows at JAY-Z.
Carolina Panthers safety and former teammate of Kaepernick, Eric Reid questioned the rapper’s motives. “When has JAY-Z ever taken a knee? For you get paid to go into a NFL conference and say we are past kneeling is asinine.” Reid has his own fair share of criticism. Before Kaepernick’s pre-game protest, Reid, didn’t take offense with any issues concerning the NFL. In fact, The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t mandate any players from exercising any form of protest during the National Anthem unlike Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, which it is required for players to stand for the National Anthem. Things got out of hand when President Trump–of all people, calling the protest disrespectful and calling for the NFL players protesting (in which he called them Son of a Bitches) to be kicked out the league. The Anthem itself by all accounts is more disrespectful than any closed-minded individual believing that protesting is a sign of being discourteous to the Flag. For a nation that was built on excluding minorities from its history, it’s quite comical to think that a simple action as kneeling was a bigger atrocity than thousands of years of oppression and bloodshed at the expense of our ancestors. Rodger Goodell however, handled these issues horribly. To say he fumbled the ball would be an understatement. I still believe, even sitting in arms reach of JAY-Z, that he has no plans to reinstate Kaepernick in to the NFL.
From an optics perspective this makes JAY-Z for some people, look funny in the light. As time has shown and proved time and time again, that alliances such as this is White America’s approach when trying to utilized and profit off of African American culture and capital. On the other hand, JAY-Z is smart, and I don’t believe he would make a deal like this without considering the ramifications that would ensue afterwords. We still don’t even know all the details ourselves and could be too quick to judge as we often sometimes do—99.9 percent of the time we often do. Now when the Super Bowl comes back around next February I think many of us will get the answers we were looking for, and some will just find validation with their assumptions all along.
Was JAY-Z a sellout, and if so, at what cost?