"I didn't have to make a silent protest," the rapper said, adding that the diverse group of artists that were chosen to perform were "the biggest, loudest protest of all"

By Ashley Boucher
February 04, 2020 10:20 PM
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JAY-Z and Beyoncé may have remained seated while Demi Lovato sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, but it wasn’t a form of protest as some previously thought.

During an appearance at Columbia University on Tuesday, JAY-Z, 50, set the record straight.

“It actually wasn’t. Sorry,” the rapper said when asked if staying seated was “meant to convey a signal,” according to video of the event obtained by TMZ. “It really wasn’t.”

JAY-Z — who produced all of the musical acts at the Super Bowl as part of his deal with the NFL as “live music entertainment strategist” — said that he and Beyoncé, 38, immediately “jumped into artist mode” as soon as the performances began with Yolanda Adams’ rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

By the time Lovato, 27, took the stage to sing the National Anthem, the pair were so enthralled with the performance and its logistics that they didn’t stand up.

Jay-Z, Beyoncé
| Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

“So the whole time we’re sitting there, we’re talking about the performance,” he explained, adding that during Adams’ performance, he was preoccupied with what was being shown on televisions across the country versus what people at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida were seeing.

“And then right after that, Demi comes out, and we’re talking about how beautiful she looks and how she sounds, and what she’s gone through in her life for her to be on the stage and we’re so proud of her,” he continued.

“It just happened,” he said of their remaining seated.

“I didn’t have to make a silent protest,” JAY-Z said, adding that the diverse group of artists that were chosen to perform were “the biggest, loudest protest of all.”

Yolanda Adams
| Credit: Elsa/Getty
Demi Lovato
| Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty

In addition to Adams and Lovato’s performances ahead of kickoff, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez headlined the halftime show. Guest appearances were made throughout their rocking performance by Bad Bunny, J. Balvin and Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter Emme.

Lopez, 50, brought out a giant Puerto Rican flag during the performance, and she and Shakira, 43, were the first two Latina women to ever co-headline the coveted Pepsi halftime show gig.

JAY-Z told The New York Times at the time of his deal with the NFL that the organization was “willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”

Shakira, Jennifer Lopez
| Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

“The NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive,” he said.

“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,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the Times at the time.

JAY-Z said at the time that he hoped his work with the NFL could go beyond the protests started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

“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, according to 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?’ For me it’s about actionable items, what are we gonna do about it?”