JAY-Z's recently announced live music and social justice partnership with the NFL has come under criticism thanks to the rapper's previous support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who remains blackballed by the football league.
Further scrutiny of JAY-Z's decision came from Brian Michael Cox and Funkmaster Flex — both men claim that JAY-Z called Jermaine Dupri of So So Def Records and attempted to discourage him from partnering with the NFL for a series of shows in Atlanta last year before the 2019 Super Bowl. Dupri announced the deal on his Instagram in October, and rejected calls to boycott the Super Bowl.
Cox discussed the issue on a recent live stream on No Chill Radio, spotted by HipHop-n-More. In comments beginning at around 14:30, Cox says that JAY-Z, who was speaking out at the time against artists collaborating with the NFL at the time, got in touch with Dupri.
"We're talking about a guy who single-handedly called... Jermaine [Dupri] to tell him not to do it." Cox goes on to say that the program Dupri discussed with the NFL was "the same program" as the one JAY-Z eventually signed with the NFL, with the exception of the Super Bowl's inclusion in JAY-Z's deal.
"I have to see how it unravels. I'm not going to condemn it," Cox says of JAY-Z's partnership. "[But] if you knew that, why would you pick up the phone and call?"
On Sunday, Funkmaster Flex tweeted that Dupri had "confirmed" JAY-Z's phone call: "HE CONFIRMED THAT WHEN HE WAS WORKING WITH THE NFL LAST YEAR HE DID GET A CALL FROM JAYZ ASKING HIM.. 'HOW DEEP ARE U IN WITH THE NFL?' EXPRESSING... 'THAT MIGHT NOT BE A GOOD IDEA." See his tweet below:
At a press conference with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on August 14, JAY-Z suggested that it was time to move past Kaepernick's protest. "[T]here’s two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next?’" JAY-Z claimed he spoke with Kaepernick about the NFL deal — this statement was deemed a "lie" by Kaepernick's girlfriend, Nessa Diab.
Kaepernick has not commented on JAY-Z's deal directly. However, he paid tribute to fellow protesting footballers Eric Reed, Kenny Stills, and Albert Wilson after news of the partnership emerged. "They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action," he wrote.