Trav should make a statement.
The united hip-hop front against the NFL has held strong. When heavyweights like Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, and others stood against loaning their talents to the Super Bowl halftime show, several other artists followed. It allegedly took the NFL quite some time to lock down a performer, and they settled on Maroon 5. The pop group does have a history with hip-hop, but they're removed enough to not have a commitment to the boycott. The hip-hop community asked the group to step down when it was announced that they would perform during the halftime show. In fact, their acceptance caused the debate to spill out into the entertainment industry as a whole, and a petition was made that garnered thousands upon thousands of votes. Still, Maroon 5 has no plans of stepping down.
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It was recently announced that Travis Scott would be joining Maroon 5 for the performance. As expected, the hip-hop community wasn’t feeling it. Allegedly, even Jay-Z himself reached out to Trav to convince him to step down. The details surrounding La Flame’s acceptance and performance are scarce, and it’s not even a certainty that it will happen. Meek Mill, who himself has taken on a position of social justice advocacy recently, equally tried to convince the masses that Trav should remove himself from the NFL’s biggest stage. Over the weekend, Al Sharpton got into the debate too, essentially pitting Travis Scott against anyone who supports Colin Kaepernick: "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," he told TMZ reporters.
In Dave Chappelle’s Netflix stand up special The Bird Revelation, he does an interesting bit about kneeling during the national anthem. “It took us 400 years to figure out as a people, that white people’s weakness the whole time was kneeling during the national anthem. That’s a brittle spirit.” He makes a good point, if you can laugh at the obvious hyperbole. After digging into the topic a bit more, Chappelle drives the joke home with this insight:
“I could kill every white person in America at one time. You know how I’d do it? Just wait for the Super Bowl, and right when they sing the National Anthem, I’d have O.J. Simpson walk to the 50-yard line with them bad knees. ‘Is that O.J. Simpson on the field? What the hell’s he doing here? Oh, I know what he’s going to do! Stop him!’ [Kneeling] Pow, ahhh!”
Chappelle’s joke reflects a statement that Jermaine Dupri himself made earlier this year. Dupri believes that artists should use the Super Bowl stage to send a message. Imagine Travis Scott brought Kaepernick out in the middle of his performance and they both kneeled together on national television? It would make a much bolder statement to crash the party than to throw our own.
Let's rewind a bit, too. When it was first announced that the Super Bowl would take place in Atlanta, the hip-hop community demanded that the NFL honor the city by placing an ATLien at the head of the Halftime Show. Atlanta is the new Motown, and it would make sense for an artist that represents the most potent hip-hop mecca to be at the head of the performance. Waka Flocka Flame stated back in September, "I think they should have somebody like Migos, Future,” he said. “I could come play ‘Hard in da Paint.’ They need somebody from Atlanta in there. It’s only right." He wasn't alone in this sentiment, many a fan bashed the NFL for not choosing an ATLien, op-eds were written, you get the idea: people were upset. But, aren’t we supposed to be boycotting the Super Bowl, anyways? Al Sharpton said the exact same thing when discussing Travis Scott's decision: "you can't have it both ways."
We're, apparently, simultaneously angered that the NFL didn’t pick an Atlanta native to perform, outraged that Travis Scott isn’t adhering to the unofficial boycott. If Migos or Future were announced as the headliner, like Waka suggested, would our reaction be the same? Would we not be celebrating their status? Sure, it's possible Jay-Z may have still asked Quavo or Future to step down. But, would there have been as big of an outrage online if the NFL gave Atlanta-bred artists the largest stage on national television?
Travis Scott should make his performance during the Halftime show the most pro-black production the world has ever seen. Scott should bring a legion of young black faces on stage with him. Kaepernick should join him on stage, and a poignant statement would be made while the nation is at full attention. This could serve as a moment to shock the establishment, uproot their celebration, and take over their narrative. La Flame could make the biggest statement the culture has seen in decades. Or, we could exclude ourselves from the event entirely, and the NFL wouldn't even bat an eye.