One of the world's most prominent rappers, Jay-Z, almost got the chance to headline a Super Bowl halftime show. But, as he told the New York Times in an interview published on Feb. 1, he actually turned down the opportunity for a very specific reason.
The NYT reported that Jay-Z was approached to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show a few years back. He was asked to perform "Run This Town," and was asked to bring Rihanna and Kanye West on stage with him since they are both featured on the track. However, Jay-Z related that he didn't want his performance to be conditional on getting Rihanna and West to perform alongside him.
"Of course I would have," he said, when asked whether he would have performed during the Super Bowl halftime show. "But I said, 'No, you get me.' That is not how you go about it, telling someone that they're going to do the halftime show contingent on who they bring. I said forget it. It was a principle thing."
While he never did make it to the Super Bowl halftime slot, Jay-Z did eventually become involved with the NFL in a much bigger capacity. As the NYT noted, Jay-Z's company, Roc Nation, struck up a partnership with the NFL that enables the rapper to have influence over the league's music events, which obviously includes the halftime show.
"The NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive," Jay-Z told the NYT around the time the partnership was announced. "They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good."
The deal between Roc Nation and the NFL was formed after Jay-Z vocalized his criticisms with the football organization over their treatment of Colin Kaepernick. In his 2018 song "APES—" with his wife, Beyonce, he rhymed that he turned down the Super Bowl halftime show in a show of support for Kaepernick, as Just Jared noted.
Given his partnership with the NFL, Jay-Z likely had a big hand in this year's halftime program, which will feature performances from Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. In advance of the show, Lopez spoke to Extra in October about how excited she was to headline such a major event.
"We are super excited. We want to make a beautiful, impactful, enjoyable, fun show for everybody," Lopez said. "We want to bring everybody together. That's the point. We as artists have that rare gift to be able to do that, and that's what I think our main goal is."