Rap and sports have always been intertwined, but JAY-Z is taking that connection to another level.
According to the New York Times, the NFL has inked a partnership with the Jigga Man and Roc Nation, which will become the league’s new “live music entertainment strategist.” With this position, JAY-Z and his team will be asked to consult on the Super Bowl halftime show and bring in high-level talent to perform at league events. Roc Nation will also be involved in the league’s key social initiatives.
The national anthem protests and subsequent collusion case have left the NFL with a black eye in the court of public opinion. Boycotts from people on both sides of the Colin Kaepernick debate resulted in a drop in TV ratings, and some artists refused to associate themselves with the NFL in solidarity with Kaepernick. It’s also worth noting that JAY-Z has been one of Kapernick’s most vocal supporters in recent years. In his new role, JAY-Z will be heavily involved in the league’s social justice campaign, the “Inspire Change” initiative. According to the Times, it “donates money to groups fighting for criminal justice reform, opportunities in economically challenged areas and better relations between the police and local communities.”
“The NFL has a great platform, and it has to be all-inclusive,” Hov said in an interview with the Times. “They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, explained that the partnership with JAY-Z will serve as a checks-and-balance system for the league.
“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,” Goodell said in an interview. “I think that’s a core element of our relationship between the two organizations, and with Jay and I personally.”
Roc Nation and the NFL will formally announce the deal on Wednesday. The financial terms were not disclosed. Meanwhile, ESPN reports that the deal is a “long-term partnership,” and will introduce new music into various NFL productions.
“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” JAY-Z said. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas—instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”
When he was asked if he would be able to work for an organization made up of team owners that he might disagree with on social justice issues, Jigga was candid. He said that working alongside people with regressive views is unavoidable in high-level business deals.
“I’m black. That’s my world,” Jay-Z told the Wall Street Journal. “I can’t control, no one can control the world that we live in currently and people’s choice to vote self interests.”
Jay-Z nodded to Kaepernick as the originator of the NFL’s current social justice campaign.
“He absolutely brought this conversation alive,” JAY-Z said. “We like to think that the way we build the 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.”
The Times meanwhile, reported that Patriots owner Robert Kraft was integral in getting the deal done. Kraft, who met JAY-Z during their joint efforts to get Meek Mill released from prison, flew to L.A. with Goodell to meet with JAY-Z as early as last year. As many as five meetings are said to have taken place before the deal was finalized.
According to ESPN, some of the upcoming initiatives that are expected to be implemented as a result of this partnership may include a Pro Bowl community concert, “Songs of the Season” original music, artists podcasts, and a live visual album.