Along with Meek Mill — and, sources tell Variety, Jay-Z — the Reverend Al Sharpton has criticized Travis Scott for his still-unconfirmed decision to perform with Maroon 5 at the Super Bowl in February, saying that such a performance is effectively an endorsement of the NFL’s treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The league’s stance toward the athlete, who has not played professionally since his controversial stance to “take a knee” during the National Anthem before games, has polarized audiences and significantly complicated this year’s halftime performance, among many other issues.
In an interview with TMZ posted early Saturday, Sharpton said, “I think anyone that goes into the halftime show is in effect directly violating those that want to raise the question that the NFL should come to terms with what they have done and continue to do to Colin Kaepernick and those that protest on criminal justice issues.
“You can’t tell people to stand for those that take a knee and don’t go to the games and then say ‘but somebody ought to perform there and entertain,’” he continued. “You’re drawing TV viewers, you’re bringing supporters, and I think that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t help people market something and then turn around and say you agree with the people protesting.”
While no artists have officially stated they are declining to perform at the Super Bowl because of the Kaepernick situation — although Rihanna and Cardi B have implied as much — sources say that Maroon 5 have struggled to find performers to accompany them during the halftime show. While the group’s performance has not been officially announced or confirmed since word leaked out about it late in September, they have not denied it, either. The performer is usually confirmed much earlier in the season — this year’s halftime star, Justin Timberlake, was announced last October — and it seems likely that the announcement could come tomorrow (Dec. 23), the final game day before the holiday.
Cardi B — who performs with the group on its hit “Girls Like You” and seems an obvious accompanist for the show — in particular is said to be working the situation to her advantage. Late Friday, the New York Post cited an unnamed source close to the Maroon 5-Cardi B negotiations as saying the rapper is holding out for $1 million (Super Bowl performers are not paid) and the solo spot. “Cardi B is standing tough and holding out. She doesn’t want to do it unless they roll out the red carpet for her,” the source reportedly said. A rep for Cardi responded, “The rumor circulating that she wants a million dollars and she wants her own set is false. There was never a firm offer to begin with for a performance. There [were] talks about it, but she was not particularly interested in participating because of how she feels about Colin Kaepernick and the whole movement . . . But again, there was never a solid offer for her to say yes or no to regarding the Super Bowl. She is already confirmed to do a set with Bruno Mars [at a separate Super Bowl week event] that weekend.”
Sharpton concluded, “I think he should do what a lot of other major artists have done: say ‘I’m not going to participate.’ You can’t fight against Jim Crow and then go sit in the back of the bus.”
Variety will have more on this situation as it develops.