Jay-Z, Roger, And Moments Of Clarity, Maybe

I’m uneasy about the NFL and Roc Nation agreement.

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“…They criticize me for it yet they all yell “Holla” / If skills sold truth be told / I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli / Truthfully I want to rhyme like Common Sense (But I did five Mil) / I ain’t been rhyming like Common since / When your sense got that much in common / And you been hustling since, your inception, fu€k perception / Go with what makes sense / Since I know what I’m up against / We as rappers must decide what’s most important / And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them / So I got rich and gave back to me that’s the win, win / The next time you see the homie and his rims spin / Just know my mind is working just like them (The rims that is)…” -Jay-Z song Moment of Clarity.


I’m uneasy about the NFL and Roc Nation deal. And at the same time, I know I don’t have enough of the details of the agreement to reach a final conclusion.

There are a lot of levels to this situation, and it’s been fascinating and challenging to unpack it. The case brings together sports, politics, business, race, workers rights, activism, policing, wealth, what is a win & what isn’t, social justice, expectations, protest vs. progress, racial profiling, corporate responsibility, cancel culture, personal responsibility, short game, long game, generational trauma, hip hop, public policy, The Culture, reparations, and so much more.

Something seems off about the initial press conference and the process of getting here. I’m not sure what I wanted the NFL to do in response to Colin and other NFL players wanting the NFL owners to care about social causes that matter to them. I mean, do I really want Colin to work for an employer that seemed to mistreat him and led to a settlement in court. Am I satisfied with the $89 million the Players Coalition and Inspire Change initiative got from the NFL for social causes that the players care about.


Maybe, instead of Roger and Shawn, I’m more frustrated with myself for over the years taking money from employers or purchasing products from companies that haven’t always done right by my people and me. Sometimes knowingly and sometimes not. This is America. Maybe my frustration extends well beyond the NFL. At the same time, though, two things can be true. I can examine my own choices and constructively question theirs.

What do you want?

Again, I’m not sure what I, we, they, you wanted. However, signing a deal with Roc Nation wasn’t on my radar. Maybe Roger and Shawn have an end game for healing, resolution, and action that will be revealed later. And maybe Roger and Shawn can’t and shouldn’t be expected to end problems that are years, decades, and centuries-old.

For now, I’m telling myself to assume positive intent and wait for more details to be reported and leaked. A moment of clarity, maybe, to be continued…

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