Another year. Another Super Bowl Halftime Show with a Black artist. Another opportunity for Jay-Z to receive uncomfortable recognition.
With the help of Kim Kardashian, Odell Beckham Jr., Marshawn Lynch, and Deion Sanders, the world found out Sunday that Usher will be headlining the Apple Music Halftime Show at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. Usher more than deserves his opportunity to perform on the biggest stage there is. Jay-Z more than deserves the criticism that comes with selling out to Roger Goodell.
Two things can be true at the same time.
Choosing Usher was one of the easiest decisions that’s ever been made when it comes to deciding on an artist for this event. For one, since he arrived on the scene, he’s checked the two most important boxes every male R&B/popular music star has to check — be cool enough that guys want to be like you, be sexy/attractive enough that women want to sleep with you.
Look, I don’t make the rules. I just remind people of them.
Also, outside of having an iconic career full of legendary hits, Usher has owned Las Vegas over the last few years as his residency has had fans flocking to Sin City to see his sold-out shows. He’s the definition of a no-brainer.
“It’s an honor of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my bucket list. I can’t wait to bring the world a show unlike anything else they’ve seen from me before,” said Usher, in the statement released by the league. “Thank you to the fans and everyone who made this opportunity happen. I’ll see you real soon.”
However, what shouldn’t be lost in the excitement around this decision is that, yet again, Jay-Z has put Black America in a mixed bag of emotions. After the debacle of the 2004 Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Halftime Show — which basically created YouTube — we watched as the NFL and networks continually iced out Black artists. But, ever since Jay-Z partnered with the league in 2019 to “advise on selecting artists for major NFL performances like the Super Bowl,” while also stupidly telling the world that “we’ve moved past kneeling,” the soul has returned to the halftime stage of America’s biggest sporting event.
“Usher is the ultimate artist and showman. Ever since his debut at the age of 15, he’s been charting his own unique course. Beyond his flawless singing and exceptional choreography, Usher bares his soul,” added Jay-Z in the statement. “His remarkable journey has propelled him to one of the grandest stages in the world. I can’t wait to see the magic.”
In 2022, for the first time in history, the Super Bowl Halftime Show — which featured friends of Jay-Z like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar — won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special. And back in February, Rihanna defied gravity with an amazing and entertaining aerial show that she was somehow able to do while pregnant.
It would be stupid for anyone to ignore that the proof is in the pudding. That is unless you’re a member of Gen Z or don’t know how to Google — which is something that generation still hasn’t mastered.
The NFL is arguably the most powerful machine in America. It didn’t need Jay-Z to make its halftime show cooler (Blacker). It needed someone to be their fall guy when they wanted Colin Kaepernick’s movement to go away.
Check this out from Jim Trotter’s racial discrimination/retaliation lawsuit against the NFL. The alleged words are from Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula — the same guy who allegedly said, “If the Black players don’t like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is.”
“Mr. Pegula stated his opinion that Mr. Kaepernick’s disenfranchisement was a ‘media problem’ and proposed that the NFL needed a spokesperson to promote the league’s image. Mr. Pegula suggested that the spokesperson be Black in order to placate the media: ‘For us to have a face, as an African-American, at least a face that could be in the media, we could fall in behind that.”
Jay-Z is a high-priced puppet.
If the NFL was able to get the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince to perform, then don’t tell me they need Jay-Z now. Besides, we’ve seen Nelly, Diddy, and Beyoncé (his own wife, who’s performed twice) all do the show without his involvement.
“I want to be held accountable for what I am doing,” Jay-Z said back in 2019 while smiling and laughing next to Roger Goodell. “It keeps me sharp. Lets me know I can’t play around. I have to do what I say I am going to do.”
By writing this column, I’m simply doing what Jay-Z asked me to do. I’m not dumb enough to believe that Jay-Z isn’t a big part of the reason we’ll get to enjoy Usher in February. But, I’m also smart enough to know that he didn’t have to sell out Colin Kaepernick to do it.
Original source here
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