×

Jay-Z Talks NFL Deal, Colin Kaepernick: ‘I Can’t Control the World We Live in’

In an interview published hours after news broke of his surprise music-and-social-justice deal with the NFL, Jay-Z said one of his goals in the deal is to create a platform where statements of protest from players like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has essentially been drummed out of the N.F.L. for kneeling during the National Anthem, wouldn’t “have to take place on the field.”

Jay said on Monday that he hasn’t spoken with Kaepernick but hopes to do so soon. (Reps for Jay-Z, Kaepernick and multiple artists either declined or did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment).

“He absolutely brought this conversation alive,” Jay-Z told the Wall Street Journal of Kaepernick. “We like to think that the way we build the [NFL’s social-awareness program] Inspire Change platform, that if anything close to that would happen in the future, then Kaepernick would have a platform where he can express himself and maybe it doesn’t have to take place on the field.”

In the same interview, NFL Commission Roger Goodell said the league has sent letters inviting Kaepernick into the conversation on the league’s efforts, apparently without receiving a response.

Without naming names, Jay also said that working with people whose political opinions he doesn’t share with is a part of doing business.

“I’m black. That’s my world,” he said, adding that if he didn’t do business with wealthy business interests who he may disagree with politically, “then I couldn’t have any TV shows. I couldn’t put my platform on TV because I’m sure someone who owns the broadcast network has supported someone who I don’t believe should be in office.

“I can’t control, no one can control the world that we live in currently and people’s choice to vote self interests,” he continued, referring to “very, very rich people.”

Jay has criticized the NFL harshly in the past, turning down offers to perform during halftime (rapping in the song “Apesh–,” “You need me, I don’t need you/ Every night we in the end zone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too”). At a Miami concert in 2017, Jay told the audience, “I want y’all to understand, when people are kneeling and putting their fists up in the air and doing what they’re doing, it’s not about the flag, it’s about justice. It’s about injustice. And that’s not a black or white thing, it’s a human issue.” Sources say he even tried to talk Travis Scott out of performing with Maroon 5 at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime, presumably out of support for Kaepernick.

He also said in the Monday interview, in a line that was not quoted directly, that he felt comfortable becoming a leading voice for the Inspire Change because of the league’s ability to reach so many different people, even though he may not agree with the politics of some NFL team owners.

Goodell praised Jay-Z’s influence and impact on several generations of fans. “There’s really no one quite like him,” Goodell said. “When we talked about doing something together, the one thing that really stood out is both of us wanted to have an impact.”

The article concludes with Jay-Z essentially defending what some might perceive as sleeping with the enemy.

“We’re going through a tough time,” he said. “A lot of people are not agreeing with one another. And we have to just push it along a little bit. There’s no magic pill. No one is going to have the solution themselves. You just have to do your little thing to push it along.”

More Music

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: Why Aerosmith Is Still Gold for Synchs

    Aerosmith’s star-studded tribute concert as the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year honorees on Friday night (January 24) will cement another important milestone in the historic Boston-founded band’s contributions to the American rock canon. But over the past decade, some of the band’s best-known music has remained part of the cultural conversation through some of [...]

  • Josh Olson Mick Jagger Steve Bing

    Mick Jagger's Rainy Day Podcasts, Warner Bros. Digital Networks Sign First-Look Deal

    A podcast shingle co-created by Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger has inked a deal with a major studio. Warner Bros. Digital Networks has signed a first-look deal with Rainy Day Podcasts, a new company from Jagged Films partners Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman, producer Steve Bing and writer Josh Olson, with the aim of producing [...]

  • Sirius Logo

    Radio Hall of Famer Kid Kelly Leaves SiriusXM After Two Decades

    In a surprise move, veteran programmer, on-air personality and Radio Hall of Famer Kid Kelly has left SiriusXM after nearly 20 years with the radio giant, a rep for the company has confirmed to Variety. The news was first reported by RAMP. He most recently served as SiriusXM’s VP of Pop Music Programming. “After a [...]

  • Grammy Moments Brandi Carlile John Legend

    What's a Grammy Moment Worth? Brandi Carlile, John Legend, Label Execs Weigh In

    In simpler times, an artist could see album sales spike to over 500,000 in the days after a Grammy Awards broadcast appearance. That was Santana’s experience in 2000. Following a performance on the show and eight Grammy wins, “Supernatural” flew off the shelves — a gold certification from one key look. Today, that seems downright [...]

  • Taylor Swift: Miss Americana

    'Taylor Swift: Miss Americana': Film Review

    Fly-on-the-wall portraits of pop-music stars used to be dominated by, you know, pop music. The life and personality and woe-is-me-I’m-caught-in-the-media-fishbowl spectacle of the star herself was part of the equation, yet all that stuff had a way of dancing around the edges. Now, though, it’s front and center. In “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” we catch [...]

  • Taylor Swift attends the premiere of

    Sundance Crowd Goes Wild as Taylor Swift Becomes Powerful Voice of Trump Resistance

    At the outset of the first screening of the documentary “Miss Americana” Thursday night at the Sundance Film Festival, it was clear at the outset that it was not necessarily Taylor Swift’s core audience filling the Eccles Theater for the premiere. The opening scene has Swift trying to write a song at the piano while [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content