Jay-Z broke his silence on him and wife Beyoncé sitting during the national anthem at the Super Bowl, refuting claims that the star couple was making a political statement.
During a discussion at Columbia University Tuesday night, the 50-year-old rapper was asked by a moderator whether sitting as Demi Lovato sang the national anthem Sunday was “meant to convey a signal.”
“It actually wasn’t — sorry,” he said, adding that if he’d wanted to make a political statement, “I’d tell you. … I’d say, ‘Yes, that’s what I’ve done.’ I think people know that about me.”
Jay-Z explained that as co-producer of the halftime show, he was in “artist mode” and focused on Lovato and gospel Yolanda Adams, who sang “America the Beautiful” prior to the anthem.
“The whole time we’re sitting there, we’re talking about the performance,” he said. “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 in her life and to be on the stage, we’re so proud of her.”
He said he didn’t realize they had sat through the anthem until someone pointed it out in a phone call afterward.
Jay-Z said the couple wouldn’t have made such a plan with daughter Blue Ivy, 8, in tow.
“Blue was right next to us, we wouldn’t do that to Blue and put her in that position,” he said. “And 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.
“I didn’t have to make a silent protest,” he said. “If you look at the stage and the artists that we chose — Colombian [Shakira] and Puerto Rican [Jennifer Lopez] — 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 came under intense scrutiny last year when he announced his Roc Nation company’s partnership with the NFL to focus on social justice issues, which some took as an affront to Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback who famously began kneeling in 2016 during the anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality but has been out of the league since his contract expired the following year.