After being slammed by fans for allegedly disrespecting the nation, the rapper, 50, explained during a Columbia University Q&A that he and his wife, 38, were so entranced by Demi Lovato’s breathtaking performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” that they forgot to stand.
“It actually wasn’t, sorry. If I wanted to make a statement, I’d tell you,” he said when asked if he meant to convey a signal with his actions. “I’d say, ‘Yes, that’s what I’ve done.’ I think people know that about me.”
JAY-Z then said that when he, Beyoncé and daughter Blue Ivy arrived to watch the San Francisco 49ers play against the Kansas City Chiefs, the show was about to start, so they immediately jumped into their artistic mindsets.
“My wife was with me and so she says to me, ‘I know this feeling right here.’ Like, she’s super nervous because she’s performed at Super Bowls before... I haven’t,” he said. “So, we get there, and we immediately jump into artist mode… now I’m really just looking at the show. Did the mic start? Was it too low to start? I had to explain to them that as an artist, if you don’t feel the music, you can’t really reach that level.”
JAY-Z's company Roc Nation signed a partnership with the NFL to “advise on selecting artists for major NFL performances like the Super Bowl.” He also co-produced the halftime show.
During his Q&A, the “Empire State of Mind” rapper insisted that it wasn’t until Lovato, 27, wrapped up her performance that he and Beyoncé even realized what they’d done.
“So the whole time we’re sitting there, we’re talking about the performance, and then right after that, Demi comes out and we’re talking about how beautiful she looked, and how she sounds and what she’s going through, and her life — for her to be on the stage, we were so proud of her,” he recalled. “And then it finished and then my phone rang. And it was like, ‘You know you didn’t…’ I’m like, ‘What?’”
RadarOnline.com readers know Twitter exploded when photos and videos of the power couple sitting down during the National Anthem circled the web. Fans had mixed reactions: some accused the stars of being impolite, while others praised them for allegedly protesting inequality during Black History Month.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who instigated the “take a knee” movement to fight against racism and police brutality in 2016 — even branded JAY-Z a hypocrite for allegedly doing a silent protest after bashing his movement in an interview.
According to JAY-Z, however, he and the “Single Ladies” singer never meant to protest, disrespect or cause a scene.
“I didn’t have to make a silent protest… If you look at the stage and the artists that we chose — Colombian Shakira and Puerto Rican J.Lo — we were making the loudest statement,” he said, speaking of the mind-blowing halftime show featuring the two Latin artists.
“And we had a commercial running on social injustice during the Super Bowl. Given the context, I didn’t have to make a silent protest,” he continued.
The star added that if he ever wants to protest, he will do so proudly, and never in front of his daughter. “Blue was right next to us, we wouldn’t do that to Blue and put her in that position,” he insisted.
JAY-Z’s August agreement with the NFL specifies that Roc Nation will help lead the league’s Inspire Change initiative, which advocates for “education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.”