Jay-Z is expanding his business portfolio. It was reported today that the rap legend’s Roc Nation enterprise has entered a deal with the NFL to coordinate entertainment and work with the league’s social-justice initiative. It’s a high-profile partnership, considering both the size of Jay-Z’s celebrity and his association with Colin Kaepernick, the former pro quarterback who was seemingly exiled from the league after he began protesting police brutality by taking a knee on the field during the national anthem. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the New York Times that “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.” Jay-Z said in a separate interview that “the NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive. They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”
In the past, Jay-Z has turned down offers to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show, and in the song “Apeshit” he called out the league by saying, “You need me, I don’t need you.” But as part of the contract between Roc Nation and the NFL, he will now be a halftime-show producer, which means, among other things, that we are likely now closer than ever to seeing Rihanna perform at the event. (Contract language states that Jay-Z is not obligated to perform, though he can choose to.) In addition to hooking up musicians to work with the league during the season, Roc Nation will connect to the league’s Inspire Change campaign, in which the NFL donates to causes chosen by players.