Antwan “Big Boi” Patton will join pop rock band Maroon 5 and Texas rapper Travis Scott as the third performer in the Super Bowl LIII halftime show at Mercedes Benz Stadium in February.
Today’s announcement follows months of controversy concerning the performance. Critics ranged from celebrities like Amy Schumer to organizations like the NAACP have taken issue with the halftime booking — partially because the big game is taking place in Atlanta, the capital of black music in the U.S., but largely because of the NFL’s treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been essentially drummed out of the league for kneeling during the National Anthem (a move many people feel is based in racism) — and advocated for musicians to turn down the gig.
Maroon 5 now has two artists of color performing with them at the Super Bowl — one of them, Big Boi, an Atlanta native.
Precisely 30 minutes before the official Super Bowl announcement was made, Travis Scott issued a statement saying that in partnership with the NFL, he will donate $500,000 to Dream Corps, a nonprofit founded by CNN commentator Van Jones that, according to its mission statement, supports “economic, environmental and criminal justice innovators.” Super Bowl performers are not compensated for their appearances during the annual game.
Scott nodded to the criticism he has received in a statement announcing the donation: “I back anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in,” he said. “I know being an artist that it’s in my power to inspire. So before confirming the Super Bowl Halftime performance, I made sure to partner with the NFL on this important donation. I am proud to support Dream Corps and the work they do that will hopefully inspire and promote change.”
Jay-Z, Meek Mill and the Reverend Al Sharpton were among the people who sources or reports said criticized or tried to convince Scott to decline the performance. But he, Maroon 5 and Big Boi are all affiliated with the Irving Azoff-helmed Full Stop Management, which apparently carried the day.
While the group and the NFL were said to be seeking an Atlanta-based act and had spoken with the booming label and management company Quality Control, which is based in the city and also consults Cardi B, about assisting with the effort, the Texas-born Scott, whose “Astroworld” is one of the top albums of the year, is probably considered a sufficient coup.