Jay-Z is unfazed by the backlash he received for going into business with NFL bosses because his ultimate goal is to use the new platform to bolster his social justice initiatives.
The rap mogul surprised fans last summer (2019) when he entered into a partnership with NFL (National Football League) officials via his Roc Nation firm, and was appointed the organization’s live music entertainment strategist.
The move was slammed by some as JAY-Z had previously been critical of NFL executives’ treatment of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been shunned by league chiefs and team owners after drawing controversy for kneeling during each game’s U.S. National Anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. He has not played in the NFL since his contract with the San Francisco 49ers came to an end in 2017.
However, JAY-Z has now defended his decision to work with the NFL, because as part of the agreement, he has a key role in the development of the league’s new Inspire Change campaign, focused on “education and economic advancement, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform”.
The partnership also included a pledge from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to spend $100 million over the next 10 years on social justice outreach and causes, which the hip-hop icon insists is a major win for all concerned.
“As long as real people are being hurt and marginalised and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press,” JAY-Z told The New York Times of the heat he faced in the wake of the NFL deal.
The superstar makes it clear he still stands by his support of Kaepernick, but he wants to move the conversation forward instead of focus on just one part of the bigger picture.
“No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong,” JAY-Z declared.
“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?'”
As such, Sunday’s (February 2, 2020) big Super Bowl broadcast will include a public service announcement-style video sponsored by the NFL, highlighting stories of African-American males who have become victims of deadly instances of police brutality.
Addressing how his approach to tackling social injustice differs from the stance Kaepernick has taken, JAY-Z added, “We are two adult men who disagree on the tactic but are marching for the same cause.”
JAY-Z will co-produce the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show in Miami, Florida, which will feature Roc Nation artist Shakira alongside Jennifer Lopez. The San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the championship game.