Jay-Z Is Partnering With NFL To Manage Strategy For Entertainment, Social Justice

Jay-Z Is Partnering With NFL To Manage Strategy For Entertainment, Social Justice

Jay-Z and his company Roc Nation partnered with the NFL to do live music entertainment strategy and help with community activism. In this Nov. 4, 2016 photo, Jay-Z performs during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation agency will become the NFL’s live music entertainment strategist, co-producing the Super Bowl halftime show and choosing who gets to perform in a partnership that brings together two of the country’s biggest brands.

The announcement follows more than two years of conflict after football players — inspired by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — began kneeling during the national anthem to protest against police brutality.

About 75 percent of the NFL is African American. Kaepernick’s symbolic gesture against racial injustice stimulated a national debate about race and free speech. In 2017, Donald Trump encouraged NFL owners to fire the protesters.

The NFL partnership puts Jay-Z in charge of managing some entertainment for the football league but does not require him to be the halftime performer, he and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. The 12-minute Super Bowl halftime show is seen by more than 100 million people each year. It’s the most-watched music performance in the U.S.

The goal is for the entertainment to tie into the NFL’s social justice attempts, with community activism tied into the NFL’s “Inspire Change” program.

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The deal gives the NFL a foothold in the music business and the seal of approval for its social justice efforts from one of the country’s top African-American celebrities, New York Times reported.

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It also gives the NFL a chance to bond with its most influential critics. Jay-Z has likened Kaepernick to Muhammad Ali and wore a custom version of Kaepernick’s jersey when he performed on “Saturday Night Live” in 2017.

“The N.F.L. has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive,” Jay-Z said in an interview this week. “They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”

Jay-Z turned down a chance to perform at the Super Bowl in 2018, The Source reported, and told the league in a recent song, “You need me, I don’t need you.” Other Black stars including Rihanna have rebuffed the NFL over its handling of protesters.