Music

Travis Scott Needs To Own The Controversy Surrounding His Superbowl Halftime Performance

Getty / Uproxx Studios

Earlier this week, Travis Scott was basically called a liar by exiled football player and current social justice beacon Colin Kaepernick and his girlfriend, radio personality Nessa, after a Variety report claimed that the “Sicko Mode” artist and Kaepernick came to a mutual understanding about Scott performing at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

Kaepernick has been veritably blackballed from the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem during the 2015 and 2016 NFL seasons. His silent protests sparked an unprecedented social justice movement throughout the infamously conservative football league, and made him a pariah. He’s in the process of suing the NFL and its 32 owners for allegedly colluding to keep him out of the league, and many people have boycotted the NFL in solidarity.

Cardi B was initially set to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show, but reportedly backed out and refused to perform until “[the NFL] hires(s) Colin Kaepernick back.” Rihanna also rejected the NFL’s offer to perform as her own show of solidarity with Kaepernick. Jay-Z has denied the NFL as well, and even tried to talk Travis Scott into backing out of his performance.

Apparently, Mr. Carter’s influence wasn’t enough to convince Scott not to perform on one of the biggest platforms in the world. Scott has only recently elevated to a superstar tier of hip-hop, and it appears that he’s going to use the opportunity to further entrench himself as a household name. Considering that Missy received a 1,000% increase on her streams after performing at Super Bowl XLIX, it makes sense for his bottom line.

But performing doesn’t make sense for anyone else. If Scott wants to perform at the Super Bowl that’s his prerogative, but he should also acknowledge that his decision will be regarded as a smack in the face to everyone who is boycotting the NFL for its blackballing of Kaepernick and racist stifling of players protesting systemic injustice. There’s no amount of positive PR that will help him, or Big Boi, or any other Black musician look any better in this situation.

Nessa tweeted that “there is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against Kaepernick,” and basically called Travis Scott a sellout on Wednesday, echoing the sentiments of many who are already not feeling Scott for 2014 comments that insinuated Mike Brown, who was murdered in 2014 by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, “deserved to pay for consequences he probably inflicted.” Hot 97 host Ebro evoked the comments in one of his critical tweets, and also tweeted that “Kap did not approve this bullsh*t! Get the f*ck outta here.” Kaepernick retweeted Ebro’s fiery rebuke of Scott, which is a resounding denial that he came to any sort of agreement with the artist.

The report claimed that Scott appealed to Kaepernick by saying that he would have the NFL donate money to the Dream Cops nonprofit in an effort to make “some good” out of the situation. The article screams like a play from the Kardashian playbook of getting in control of a story by any means. There’s no charity or explanation that’s going to make Scott, who is a member of the Kardashian clan through his union to Kylie Jenner, look any better in the public eye for placating a desperate league that’s vying to pretend everything is all good even as fans have stopped viewing in droves.

During the heat of NFL players kneeling in 2017, the NFL owners met with players in a bid to silence their resistance by offering to donate to charities of their choice. It’s clear with that decision and their dealings with Scott that the NFL’s 32 billionaire owners are using charity donations as black briefcases in an effort to hush the controversy surrounding their treatment of Kaepernick and other protesting players.

NFL player Eric Reid recently deemed fellow player Malcolm Jenkins “cowardly” for “co-opting the movement that was started by Colin to get his organization funded” by the NFL. Unfortunately for Travis Scott, he’s now in that boat of people who are on the wrong side of the fence in the NFL’s fight for social justice. If Kaepernick was still in the league, then it’s likely that Jay-Z or Rihanna would have happily accepted the NFL’s offer, and Scott wouldn’t have been considered. But as a last-ditch choice, he basically bailed the NFL out when a more powerful show of solidarity from hip-hop would have been a universal boycott, even if the Super Bowl will take place in the hip-hop hotbed of Atlanta.

For Reid’s outspoken support of Kaepernick, he’s been excessively drug tested seven times in eleven weeks in a bid to stop him from playing. It’s clear that the NFL brass has no conscience, and simply want their Black players’ issues to go away without addressing them, and definitely don’t want to have their fields used as a protest grounds to amplify them. If players had said that they were kneeling as a statement of advocacy for breast cancer research or supporting American troops, there likely wouldn’t be an issue. Given that the league is comprised of 32 billionaires and its core fanbase is predominantly upper middle-class white men, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not willing to get behind issues affecting people of color like overhauling the police system and quelling economic inequality.

As long as the NFL remains at an ideological impasse with the bulk of its workforce, and Kaepernick remains exiled from the league while less competent quarterbacks get signed, fans will continue to boycott the league. Any entertainer who aligns with “the shield” won’t be protected from being called a sellout like Travis Scott was this week.

He may get the chills of a lifetime performing for a packed stadium for the first time, but they come at the expense of making so many of his fans recoil in disgust at his decision. That’s life for modern celebrities, who have to carefully consider the moral and ethical ramifications of aligning with certain brands and organizations.

What kind of injustices are artists willing to look the other way on in order to take advantage of an opportunity? We see what Travis Scott’s answer is. At this point, he should simply own his decision, and tell Kris Jenner to pause the Kardashian PR machine in acceptance of the predicament he put himself in. In a couple of weeks, millions of new consumers will find out who Travis Scott is. But with his decision to entertain on the NFL stage, his core demographic is already aware of who he is.

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