If JAY-Z and Beyoncé do anything, it makes front page news. Need proof? Take a look at the reactions to JAY-Z and Beyoncé's surprise album, Everything Is Love. In addition to producing a full album and a mesmerizing music video, the couple may have made a statement that flies directly in the face of the current administration. There's a lot to unpack in the amazing music video they dropped alongside their full album, but this NFL kneeling reference in "Apesh*t" has Twitter on fire, and rightly so.
In 2016, quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games as a way to protest against police brutality against people of color and to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter. He remains unsigned and without work, though his actions became a revolutionary stance for athletes, professional or otherwise, in the recent year. In May, the NFL banned players from taking a knee while on the field, otherwise, if they remain on the field during the national anthem, and don't stand, their team will be fined, according to CNBC.
President Trump responded via an interview with Fox & Friends saying, "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there, maybe you shouldn't be in the country." Bey and JAY-Z then seemingly responded to the controversy with their own commentary in the lyrics for "Apesh*t", and during the accompanying music video, which is now available on TIDAL.
Set in the middle of tableaus featuring black bodies comfortably echoing and defiantly standing among the most famous collection of classical European art in the world, it's a clear and powerful statement about refusing to side with racism, remain invisible, or stop calling for equality.
The Carters are media savvy and aware the world's eyes follow their every move. It's outstanding that right off the bat on an album reflecting on their relationship struggles, pain, love, and reconciliation, they leverage their fame and power (they shot a music video in the Louvre!) to possibly name-check and call out larger institutions like the NFL and the Grammys for their alleged biases.
The song "Apesh*t" Also features lyrics like, "I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don't need you, every night we in the end zone, tell the NFL we in stadiums, too." It seems that the lyrics speak for themselves; the Carters don't feel they need the audience of the NFL, but instead the NFL needs the Carters' audience. Beyoncé last performed at the Super Bowl in 2017.
This isn't the first apparent political statement made in a song by either JAY-Z or Beyoncé. In "Family Feud", the rapper commented on political parties fostering fear in the name of "making America Great Again." Meanwhile, Beyoncé previously sang about the Black Lives Matter movement in her hit "Formation". Seeing them come together on "Apesh*t" to speak out about so many important issues, only reiterates why their music is so powerful.
In an article on SB Nation about the ingrained political nature of sports, football in particular, writer Tyler Tynes sums it up perfectly when he writes, "Truthfully, football was never meant to serve the black body, which has been abused for generations. America watched as men they perceive as property begged for a voice and were muzzled. This is a cycle America has always known."
It's something Beyoncé and JAY-Z know too, but there's no silencing the reigning power couple when they put their minds to something. With their pointed inclusion of taking a knee in "Apesh*t", they've boosted the silent protest into loud and clear push back the NFL can't ignore.