The Weeknd, America’s beloved R&B crossover sensation, is set to head the Halftime Show at Super Bowl LV. This performance will mark the second time that the NFL has partnered up with Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation. The interesting part about this pick is the fact that in many ways, it blurs the fine line between commerce and culture.
In 2019, the NFL generated almost $16 billion in revenue. This came four years after the Colin Kaepernick kneeling controversy, which cost the NFL several public relations losses, including those led by The Weeknd himself.
What To Understand About This Deal
The deal between the NFL and Roc Nation formed back in 2019. In a CultureBanx article that followed soon after, many were confused as to whether this $89 million-dollar deal was going to be a tool to make progress in the world of social justice or simply another way for Jay-Z to make some big money.
Even the New York Times said that the selection of The Weeknd for the Halftime Super Bowl Show was simply the “N.F.L.’s recent attempts to attract a wider audience by pivoting from classic rock acts dominated by white musicians to artists with large social media followings who are popular with younger fans and people of color.”
As far as we know, both Roc Nation and the NFL have labeled this as a progressive step for the same campaign that got Kaepernick kicked out of the league in the first place. For many, it seems like a failed coup for public relations from the NFL and a simple money grab from Jay-Z and Roc Nation.
No financial arrangements for the show’s deal have been made public thus far. What is important to understand is that, according to the Wall Street Journal, Colin Kaepernick only received a small sum of less than $10 million for his grievance settle last year.
The Weeknd’s Support of Kaepernick
The strangest part about this deal is that The Weeknd was a major public supporter of Kaepernick and still is today. Just this past year, The Weekend donated $200,000 to Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative after the George Floyd killing. Some might wonder why he would be part of anything in the NFL.
The idea here is that Roc Nation is set to help spread the word of new social justice efforts for the NFL. One of these efforts includes a $250 million-dollar commitment to social justice causes through the NFL Inspire Change program. The program is meant to create unique opportunities and content for players to speak publicly about certain issues. However, not once was an apology given to Kaepernick, which makes this newfound progressive attitude all the more fishy.
What we do know is this will be a major win for the NFL, as Roc Nation is a haven for culture, all while acting as a home base for some of the music industry’s biggest stars, including DJ Khaled and Rihanna. It will be much easier for the league to grab the attention of people of color.