Last month, the NFL and Jay-Z‘s entertainment and sports representation company, Roc Nation, announced that they were teaming up for events and social activism.
ESPN First Take’s Stephen A. Smith weighed in on the move on a recent episode of Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning.
“Now is there something in it that’s going to benefit him, I have no doubt,” Smith told the show’s hosts Ebron Darden, Laura Stylez and Peter Rosenberg.
“Of course that’s going to be the case. But at the end of the day, if this is a brotha from Brooklyn, who established himself as a hip hop mogul and an iconic figure, who never shied away from his own blackness in his rise to the top, my argument on behalf of Jay-Z was not that he did everything right, not that that press conference was a good look, ‘cause it wasn’t. It wasn’t! My point is, give the man a chance to see what he does. To sit up there and call him a sellout, to question his blackness, this is the problem that we have in our community.”
For those keeping score at home: Jay-Z and Roc Nation are also curating the Super Bowl’s Halftime Show.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira are Super Bowl LIV’s halftime performers.
Many in the black community have condemed Jay-Z’s involvement in the project.
Stephen A. Smith gave his take on it. “The second something happens and we don’t agree with something one of us is doing, we get engaged in character assassination,” he said.
“As opposed to sticking to that particular issue and saying: ‘Look I’m not feeling that, explain that to me.’ Or do what most people do with me: ‘Yo Stephen A., make sure you do this,’ ‘Stephen A., don’t let us down.’ I’m a sports guy, they had me talking Trayvon Martin. They had me talking Eric Garner. They had me talking a lot of that stuff. Why? Because of one of the few black voices out there in position to do so. I understood that. So coming to me and saying: ‘Hey Stephen A., make sure, please make sure you pay attention to this,’ I understood. But if they say: ‘Yo man if you don’t touch on this then you’re a sellout,’ I’m gonna tell you to kiss my ass because you don’t know me. So why would you come to me off the bat with that kind of attitude?”