UPDATED: Maroon 5’s long search for a top-name artist to perform with them at the Super Bowl appears to be over: Sources confirm to Variety that rapper Travis Scott will perform with the quintet at the big game in Atlanta on Feb. 3, and they will be joined by three more guests. Contacted by Variety, reps for Scott and his management declined to confirm; TMZ was first to report the Scott news.
Two sources also tell Variety that Jay-Z — who has been highly critical of the NFL over its treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — is attempting to talk Scott out of performing, although reps either declined comment or could not immediately be reached.
The Maroon 5/Scott move makes business sense, as both artists are affiliated with the Irving Azoff-helmed Full Stop Management. The report also says that talks are ongoing with Cardi B and Outkast’s Big Boi, as Variety reported last week. An insider tells Variety that Cardi, who is featured on the Maroon 5 hit “Girls Like You,” wants to perform one of her own hits as part of the 13-minute halftime show.
Late Friday, the New York Post cited an unnamed source close to the Maroon 5-Cardi B negotiations as saying the rapper is holding out for $1 million (Super Bowl performers are not paid) and the solo spot. “Cardi B is standing tough and holding out. She doesn’t want to do it unless they roll out the red carpet for her,” the source reportedly said. A rep for Cardi responded, “The rumor circulating that she wants a million dollars and she wants her own set is false. There was never a firm offer to begin with for a performance. There [were] talks about it, but she was not particularly interested in participating because of how she feels about Colin Kaepernick and the whole movement . . . But again, there was never a solid offer for her to say yes or no to regarding the Super Bowl. She is already confirmed to do a set with Bruno Mars [at a separate Super Bowl week event] that weekend.”
However, considering the stylistic gap, to put it mildly, between the music of Maroon 5 and Travis Scott, it seems likely that the rapper will be performing at least one of his own songs, which may increase the likelihood that Cardi will as well.
Maroon 5 still have not been officially confirmed as the game’s halftime performers, although multiple sources told Variety back in September that they would be the headlining act and no involved parties have denied it. The group has come under intense criticism for taking on the gig, largely because it implies support of the NFL’s stance toward Kaepernick, who has essentially been drummed out of the league for “taking a knee” as a sign of protest during the National Anthem.
For weeks, Maroon 5 had been struggling to find a black act to take the stage with them, according to Variety‘s sources, with Cardi B, Outkast, Usher, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, said to be in talks with the group; Mary J. Blige and Rihanna are said to have declined. The unprecedented delay in announcing a halftime headliner — 2018 Super Bowl performer Justin Timberlake made his announcement last October — is believed to be due to the delay in confirming a second performer.
Scott recently performed on a song with Migos rapper Quavo called “Huncho Jack” that references Kaepernick: “Take a knee like the ‘Niners (Kaepernick) /Join the team, don’t divide us (join them),” the line goes.
Scott is currently in the midst of a nationwide “Astroworld” tour. Among those in attendance for Wednesday’s L.A. stop at the Forum were Jay-Z and Beyonce, Kanye West and members of Migos; earlier Wednesday, Scott and Kendrick Lamar performed together at the TDE label’s 5th annual holiday toy drive. Scott is currently featured on the cover of Rolling Stone.
While the group and the NFL were said to be seeking an Atlanta-based act and had spoken with the booming label and management company Quality Control, which is based in the city and also consults Cardi B, about assisting with the effort, the Texas-born Scott, whose “Astroworld” is one of the top albums of the year, is probably considered a sufficient coup.
Other acts performing in town during the days leading up to the game include Cardi, Post Malone and Bruno Mars. In addition, local artists like Ludacris and Lil Jon will feature prominently at the Bud Light shows held on the weekend of the game.
Variety will have more on this story as it develops.