Jay-Z and Roc Nation have partnered with the N.F.L. as part of a new Music and Social Justice Deal.
According to The New York Times, Jay-Z and Roc Nation will now serve as N.F.L.’s “live music entertainment strategists” and will see them acting as consultants on the league’s performances – including the famed Super Bowl halftime show. An announcement about the partnership is expected at a press conference later today (August 14).
As well as this, they will also contribute to the N.F.L.’s Inspire Change activism campaign which launched in January after their controversial response to players who chose to kneel during the national anthem.
In the past, Jay-Z has been vocal in his support for Colin Kaepernick – the first N.F.L. player to kneel during the national anthem before games. Kaepernick used the gesture to protest police brutality and racial injustices across America or, as he put it in 2017: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.”
Other players began to join him, provoking the ire of Donald Trump and other conservatives. The N.F.L. supported the players at first before doing a U-turn so hard they introduced a short-lived policy to fine those that protested on the pitch. Kaepernick hasn’t played a game since 2016 and has accused the N.F.L. of colluding against him to stop him being offered a contract from any team in the league.
Speaking to The New York Times, Jay-Z said: “The N.F.L. has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive…They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L., said the league wants partners that hold it to account and not necessarily ones that agree with them.
Goodell told the New York Times: “We don’t want people to come in and necessarily agree with us; we want people to come in and tell us what we can do better. I think that’s a core element of our relationship between the two organisations, and with Jay and I personally.”
Previously, Jay-Z has dedicated ‘The Story of O.J’ to Kaepernick and has referred to the former quarterback as “an iconic figure.” Jay-Z also declined to perform at the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show to show his solidarity with the player.
Jay-Z has been an outspoken advocate of protests on police brutality in America for years. In 2015, he commended the New York Governor’s plan to improve police relations and earlier this year, he made a surprise appearance at the Trayvon Martin Peace Walk in Miami.