Jay-Z has responded to the criticism he and Beyonce faced for sitting down during the national anthem at the Super Bowl, insisting that the pair were not staging a political protest.
The power couple attended the huge NFL game in Miami last Sunday with daughter Blue Ivy, after Jay’s firm Roc Nation produced all of the match’s musical performances as part of his partnership with the NFL.
But as Demi Lovato delivered a stirring rendition of the US national anthem, they were seen remaining firmly in their seats – sparking criticism from right wing pundits.
At the time, many believed it to be a show of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Take a Knee’ protest – which has left the quarterback as a free agent since 2017.
Discussing the furore for the first time, Jay-Z said: “It actually wasn’t, sorry. It really wasn’t. I’d tell you … I’d say, ‘Yes, that’s what I’ve done’. I think people know that about me.”
He told a crowd during a Q&A at Columbia University on Tuesday: “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.
“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.”
The rapper then explained that Beyonce’s nerves were behind their decision to remain seated.
“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’,” Jay Z revealed.
Explaining how Beyonce “immediately” began analysing the performance, he said: “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. And then it finished and then my phone rang. And it was like, ‘You know you didn’t …’ I’m like, ‘What?'”.
He also admitted that he was surprised by the idea that he would consider a political protest while daughter Blue Ivy was present.
“If anyone who knows Blue … If we told her we were going to do something like that, you would have seen her attacking me 100 times [sic],” he said.
“She’s the kid that gets in the car and closes the door and says, ‘Are we there yet, daddy?’ So she would say, ‘What time? Are we doing it? Are we doing it now? It’s 7:05, daddy … It’s 7:06.'”
It comes after Jennifer Lopez seemingly took aim at Donald Trump only moments before her Super Bowl half time performance.
In a behind-the-scenes video, Lopez is also seen leading a prayer circle, where she takes a series of digs at the US leader.
“Other people can try to build walls, keep us out or put us in cages. We are proud to recognise that all of us together are what makes this beautiful country truly great,” she tells her production team.
Lopez’ performance itself also took a political edge as she draped herself in the flag of Puerto Rico, in what was perceived to be a dig at the Trump administration’s response to the two hurricanes that devastated the island back in 2017.