JAY-Z and Beyoncé sparked a national debate when they stayed seated during the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
But the Roc Nation mogul says that he was not trying to make a political statement with the gesture. During a Q&A as part of a lecture series at Columbia University on Tuesday, JAY-Z addressed the speculation, saying he was simply focused on his job as producer of the halftime show.
“It actually wasn’t–sorry,” he said when asked if not standing was meant to convey a message. “It really wasn’t.”
In the viral video, posted by TMZ, the celebrity couple and their 8-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, were seen sitting as they watched Demi Lovato sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
“What happened was, we got there, we were sitting, and now the show’s about to start. My wife was with me and so she says to me, ‘I know this feeling right here.’ Like, she’s super-nervous because she’s performed at Super Bowls before. I haven’t,” said JAY, according to Page Six. “So we get there and we immediately jump into artist mode … now I’m really just looking at the show. Did the mic start? Was it too low to start? … I had to explain to them [that] as an artist, if you don’t feel the music, you can’t really reach that level.”
He added, “So the whole time we’re sitting there, we’re talking about the performance, and then right after that, Demi [Lovato] comes out and we’re talking about how beautiful she looked, and how she sounds and what she’s going through, and her life — for her to be on the stage, we were so proud of her. And then it finished and then my phone rang. And it was like, ‘You know you didn’t …’ I’m like, ‘What?'”
JAY-Z said that if they were going to protest, they wouldn’t involve their daughter. “Blue was right next to us, we wouldn’t do that to Blue and put her in that position. 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. She’s the kid that gets in the car and closes the door and says, ‘Are we there yet, Daddy?’ So she would say, ‘What time? Are we doing it? Are we doing it now? It’s 7:05, Daddy … It’s 7:06.”
He said that he thought that Jennifer Lopez and Shakira made their own protest with the halftime show. “I didn’t have to make a silent protest … If you look at the stage and the artists that we chose — Colombian [Shakira] and Puerto Rican J.Lo — 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.”
JAY-Z has been criticized for his partnership with the NFL, which was received by some as a betrayal of Colin Kaepernick. In a recent interview with The New York Times, he addressed the backlash. “As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press,” he said.
“No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong,” he said of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. “He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?'”