Beyoncé and Jay-Z caused a scene at Super Bowl LIV on Sunday night with one inflammatory gesture: doing nothing at all. When this power couple didn’t stand for Demi Lovato’s national anthem, rumors flew that Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and daughter Blue Ivy were making a political statement — some applauded the move, and others found it disrespectful. But in the end, all of us were guilty of jumping to conclusions: Jay-Z has now confirmed the real reason the family didn’t stand, and why he was so surprised to hear it made the news.
During a Columbia University Q&A, Jay-Z was asked whether his choice to remain seated was “meant to convey a signal” — and the rapper quickly clarified that it was not. “It actually wasn’t — sorry,” he replied, according to Page Six. “I’d tell you…I’d say, ‘Yes, that’s what I’ve done.’ I think people know that about me.”
Many had assumed that Beyoncé and Jay-Z remaining seated signaled support of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who kneeled during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice and oppression. But Jay-Z insisted there was no “signal” to their action — so, why did it happen?
“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.”
Because of Beyoncé’s nerves, Jay-Z says the couple jumped into “artist mode” as they waited for Lovato to begin singing. “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 as an artist, if you don’t feel the music, you can’t really reach that level.”
“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,” Jay-Z continued. “And then it finished and then my phone rang. And it was like, ‘You know you didn’t …’ I’m like, ‘What?'”
The rapper made it clear that he’s not against silent protest — but he wouldn’t have made a political statement at the Super Bowl for two reasons. “Given the context, I didn’t have to make a silent protest,” he explained. “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.”
But above all, Jay-Z maintained that he would never put daughter Blue Ivy in that position: “Blue was right next to us, we wouldn’t do that to Blue,” he said. “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.'”