In February, hip-hop took center stage at the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show for a star-studded performance unlike ever seen before, featuring several iconic artists, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, with a surprise performance by 50 Cent, but it almost didn’t happen. In a new interview, Dre admitted that the show was saved by rap legends Jay-Z and Nas.
During a recent appearance on Dolvett Quince’s “Workout the Doubt” podcast, the hip-hop mogul revealed his concerns about performing at the annual show, noting that he “didn’t want to appear as a sellout” working with the NFL. The organization faced criticism over the years regarding former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who was blackballed from the league for kneeling for the national anthem when he played for the San Francisco 49ers.
“I was absolutely concerned about that,” the 57-year-old star admitted. “I actually called a couple of close friends and said, ‘Listen, I’m gonna pull out.’ ” He continued, “ ‘I’m not going to do the show. Because I don’t know if I want that smoke. I don’t know if I want the backlash after doing the show and potentially looking like a f–king sellout or something like that.’ ”
“I got on the phone with Nas. He called me up and said, ‘Yo bro’ — you know, Nas has that voice — ‘Yo bro, you gotta do it. You have to do this. It’s going to be so powerful for f–king hip-hop, for the culture, for you, for L.A. and the whole nine.’ ” He added, “We were on the phone for like 10 minutes, and he talked me into doing it. Nas and JAY-Z were big reasons why I decided to do the show.”
Jay-Z faced his own accusations of being a sellout in 2019, after it was announced that the “4:44” emcee would be partnering with the sports organization in the area of music and the league’s social justice initiatives. Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab, also accused him of only working with the NFL for money.
The Roc Nation boss addressed the matter in a song called “Flux Capacitor,” featured on Jay Electronica‘s album “A Written Testimony.” “Why would I sell out? I’m already rich, don’t make no sense,” rapped Jay-Z. “Got more money than Goodell, a whole NFL bench / Did it one-handed like Odell, handcuffed to a jail / I would’ve stayed on the sideline if they could’ve tackled that s–t themselves.”