The other day, Jay-Z had something to say about Tampa.
The rapper had just signed a deal with the NFL for his entertainment brand Roc Nation to consult on social justice issues and major events like the Super Bowl halftime show.
During a press conference with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Jay-Z was asked what he thought about the possibility of a Miami-heavy lineup for next year’s Super Bowl halftime — artists like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. He didn’t want to commit to that yet, saying it would be better to “speak to the community” first.
Then he brought up the 2021 Super Bowl, booked for Raymond James Stadium.
“Tampa’s next,” he said, according to Entertainment Tonight. “I love Tampa, but I have no idea who’s from there, who would perform. So, I don’t want to be running into that problem.”
Huh. Well, yeah, if he’s searching for artists from Tampa, it won’t take him that long. Tampa Bay’s one of those weird metro areas that simply has never produced an all-time iconic artist. There’s the Bellamy Brothers, the Outlaws, Underoath … Obituary … Bertie Higgins … the late Mel Tillis … the list gets thin pretty fast.
But the city does have a stellar history when it comes to Super Bowl entertainment. Remember Whitney Houston’s Star-Spangled Banner? Bruce Springsteen’s crotch-thrust into America’s living rooms? That time Aerosmith teamed up with Britney Spears and 'N SYNC? All of it happened in Tampa.
A couple of years ago, when the Tampa Super Bowl was first announced, we took a very early stab at guessing who the 2021 halftime headliner might be. The list has panned out thus far, as both Justin Timberlake (later picked for 2018) and Maroon 5 (who played this year) were listed as possibilities.
Our top guesses then all still hold as strong possibilities for Tampa: Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Adele, Drake, Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters ... and oh, look at this, Jay-Z. Other acts we might want to bump into the “most likely” category include Ed Sheeran, Pink, Queen and Adam Lambert, Carrie Underwood and, of course, Lil Nas X, because Old Town Road might very well still be the world’s No. 1 song in 2021.
Complicating matters, however, is the fact that some artists no longer want to play the Super Bowl as a show of solidarity for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has claimed he has been blacklisted from the league for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Rihanna and Pink both reportedly turned down last year’s halftime show.
This, again, is where Jay-Z comes in. He has had a longstanding business and artistic relationship with Rihanna, and as Goodell’s newfound social justice consigliere, he might be able to convince her — and other artists — that performing is still a good idea.
Or maybe Hov should just put his money where his mouth is and take the job himself. Perhaps the reason he doesn’t know anyone from Tampa is that he hasn’t performed here since 2004. Sure, he came to town in 2016 for wife Beyoncé’s Formation Tour rehearsals at Raymond James Stadium, but a full concert? It’s been way too long.
So swing on by, Jay, and spend some time in Tampa. Maybe you’ll get some halftime show inspiration over Cuban toast and cafe con leche. Maybe you’ll start thinking a Trans-Siberian Orchestra halftime show could actually work.
Or maybe just text Adele every day until she says yes. She’s never been here, either. You can get to know the city together.