Jay-Z could have headlined the Super Bowl halftime show — and turned it down for a somewhat surprising reason.
In an interview with the New York Times, the “Empire State of Mind” rapper revealed that he had been approached by NFL about performing at the Super Bowl. However, the league first wanted his assurance that he would being Rihanna and Kanye West along with him to perform their 2009 collab “Run This Town”.
“Of course I would have,” Jay-Z told the Times. “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 an interview last year with the New York Daily News, Jay-Z shone the spotlight on the alleged process the NFL uses to hone in on Super Bowl headliners.
“Take four of us [performers] and everybody thinks they’re playing the Super Bowl,” he explained. “It’s almost like this interview process. So if I could pick one, three other people are upset. That’s not even good math. After three years, nine people are upset and three people are going to play. I just think the process could’ve been more definite.”
While Jay-Z may not be a Super Bowl headliner, he is involved in a controversial partnership with the NFL, which has earned him backlash by those who feel that he’s supporting the league after its alleged blackballing of Colin Kaepernick for his take-a-knee protests.
Last summer, Jay-Z defended his deal with the NFL. “I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice so in that case this is a success — this is the next thing,” Jay-Z said, as reported by TMZ.
“There’s two parts of protest: the protest, and then there’s a company or individual saying ‘I hear you, what do we do next?’” he continued. “For me it’s about actionable items, what are we gonna do about it?”