Jay-Z Backed Out of Super Bowl Halftime Show When NFL Asked Him to Bring Friends

Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Last year, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation enterprise signed a partnership deal with the NFL to produce the annual Super Bowl Halftime Show, an announcement that was met with a fair share of criticism. In addition to coordinating the halftime show and other music events, Roc Nation also agreed to work closely with the league’s various social-justice initiatives, which the rapper and executive has now expounded on in a New York Times interview. An interesting anecdote in the article, though, comes from Jay-Z’s own experience of being approached to do the halftime show years ago, which he said he was planning to accept — until the NFL strongly encouraged him to enlist famous friends Rihanna and Kanye West to accompany him during a “Run This Town” medley.

“Of course I would have, 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,” he explained. “I said forget it. It was a principle thing.” While Jay-Z didn’t specify the year this occurred, “Run This Town” was released as a single from The Blueprint 3 in 2009. The majority of Super Bowl Halftime Show performances have featured more than one headliner over the past decade.

Jay-Z has previously been a critic about how the NFL chooses Halftime Show headliners, saying that the “interview process” is “fractured,” as several musicians are seriously pursued at once. “Take four of us and everybody thinks they’re playing the Super Bowl,” he explained at the time. “So if I could pick one, three other people are upset. That’s not even good math. After three years nine people are upset and three people are going to play. I just think the process could’ve been more definite.”

Noted goddesses Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will be performing at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, which will take place on Sunday, February 2 in Miami. The duo and their abs will incorporate a tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Jay-Z Was Set for a Super Bowl Halftime Show, But Backed Out