Becoming Hip-Hop’s first Billionaire wasn’t enough for Jay-Z.
Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by rapper and businessman Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, has entered into a multiyear partnership with the NFL to enhance the NFL’s live game experiences and to better the league’s social justice efforts.
As part of the agreement, Roc Nation will advise on the selection of various artists for major NFL performances like the Super Bowl. A major component of the partnership will be to nurture and strengthen community through football and music, including through the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative.
The NFL formally launched the Inspire Change initiative in early 2019, after more than two years of work with NFL players, with the goal of creating positive change in communities across the country. Through this initiative, NFL teams and the league office work with the Players Coalition and other NFL players to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on three priority areas: education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.
“With its global reach, the day National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay-Z said in a press release.
“Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.” Jay-Z added during a Q&A with select media: “I’m really into action — I’m into real work. I’m not into how it looks. How it looks only lasts for a couple months until we start doing the work. I’ve been in this position many times.
Take Tidal as a great example from five years ago. Now, people look at it today, people have a different outlook on it. But at the time, people didn’t see what was going on. So I’ve been in this position many times. I just show up and do the work, I’m not interested in how things look on the outside. If protesting on the field is the most effective way, then protest on the field. But, if you have a vehicle that you can inspire change and you can speak to the masses and educate at the same time.” Jay-Z said the platform that the NFL provides speaks to the work in the community that the league and Roc Nation can do together.
“Inspire Change is already happening (with Roc Nation) and the NFL has a huge platform,” he said. “We can use that huge platform, and we’ve seen it happen. Like with J.J. Watt, when he brought the aid to everyone in Houston, everybody forgot about the turmoil that was in the NFL. If you can use this platform to do that in different areas, that’s a home run. That’s how I would view a success. That’s success for me.”
Roc Nation also will work with the NFL to create and distribute content across multiple music streaming services for a variety of initiatives.
“Every conversation I’ve had with Jay has been inspiring,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during the deal day. “Not just on his perspective on the process of how we do the entertainment, but what we should try to achieve. We always say we should get better and we should evolve. We think we should partner with the best, and that’s why we’re sitting here. We believe we’re partnering with the best. So, his perspective is going to drive us.”
Many people in the Hip-Hop community have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to Jay-Z partnering with the NFL. But in all only time will tell what this new partnership will do for social injustice and equality.