JAY-Z said his opportunity to perform the Super Bowl halftime show should not have been "contingent" on who he could bring on stage

By Claudia Harmata
February 02, 2020 03:45 PM
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Ahead of this year’s Super Bowl LIV, JAY-Z is recalling the time he famously turned down a halftime show performance at the major sporting event.

The music mogul, 50, told The New York Times that the NFL had approached him about making sure he would bring Rihanna and Kanye West to perform their collaboration, “Run This Town.”

“Of course I would have,” JAY-Z told the publication. “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.”

The rapper previously spoke about his decision to turn down the show, adding that he didn’t like the selection process.

“I didn’t like the process. I think the process of selection was fractured,” he told reporters last year, according to New York Daily News. “Take four of us [performers] and everybody thinks they’re playing the Super Bowl. 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.”

Credit: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Image

Now, the father of three is working with the league as their “live music entertainment strategist” after he signed a deal with the NFL last year. Through the deal, JAY-Z’s entertainment and sports company, Roc Nation, now consults the NFL on live events, including the Super Bowl halftime show.

“The NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive,” he told the Times in August 2019.

The star also agreed to work with the league’s activism campaign, Inspire Change, adding, “They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”

JAY-Z’s involvement in the league was in response to the NFL’s controversial year after fans and artists rallied to support Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the #TakeAKnee movement to protest racial injustices.

Jay-Z and Roger Goodell
| Credit: Ben Hider/AP/Shutterstock

Last year, more than 100,000 people signed a Change.org petition urging last year’s performers — Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi — to drop out of the set in support of Kaepernick, who has not been offered a contract with any team since beginning his protests in 2016.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the 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 organizations, and with Jay and I personally.”

The 2020 Super Bowl halftime show will star Shakira, a Roc Nation client, and Jennifer Lopez.