M.I.A. said her former manager Jay-Z urged her to agree to a lawsuit settlement with the NFL that would have allegedly allowed the organization to keep 100 percent of her earnings if she earned more than $2 million.
In an interview with Huck, M.I.A. discussed the lawsuit, which stemmed from her controversial 2012 appearance at the Super Bowl halftime show, where she briefly gave the middle finger on air. The NFL sued M.I.A. for $16.6 million in 2014, though not long after an unspecified settlement was reached.
“If you’re talking about racism and sexism, that moment in my life showed the cracks in everyone I knew,” M.I.A. said of the Super Bowl and its aftermath. “I was at Roc Nation at the time and Jay-Z was managing me. The lawsuit was so ridiculous, it proposed that they would keep 100 percent of my earnings for the rest of my life if I ever earned more than $2 million dollars. Jay-Z was, like, ‘You should sign that shit’ and I was, like, ‘No.'”
A representative for Jay-Z declined to comment on the negotiations to Rolling Stone.
In an upcoming interview with Rolling Stone, M.I.A. elaborated on her issue with the negotiations, suggesting the NFL tried to take advantage of her because of her race and gender. “They thought the best legal way to solve that was to sign on the dotted line to whatever terms the NFL wanted to put on me, which was basically to be a lifelong slave forever and to give a hundred percent of my earnings to them until I die,” she says. “Somebody thought that was OK to write only in 2013. And it happened because you’re a woman – a brown woman – and you did something very silly. And it was so threatening that the punishment for it was to basically lock you into this thing forever.”
M.I.A. added that she was “glad” she left Roc Nation and settled the lawsuit with her own lawyers, noting that at the time, nobody was standing up to the NFL. “Since then, everyone has grown a backbone to stand up to the NFL and to have activism and to speak about things and to stick up for women,” she adds. “And none of this was around in 2013.”
The middle finger incident is covered in Stephen Loveridge’s new documentary, Matangi/MAYA/M.I.A., but M.I.A. told Huck that the film only captures part of the story. “What’s in the film is a very tiny bit of what happened to me in real life,” says the musician. “It’s quite entertaining for Steve to have made it into this nice little cookie but the reality of that was way worse. A lot of people I feel got off the hook.”
She added of the controversy, “A middle finger, it’s like get a fucking grip. People were like, ‘Oh you’re lucky you’re not in jail, give up all your profit, be this slave for the rest of your life.'” M.I.A. said and stopped short. “Oh god, I hope the NFL doesn’t sue me again for talking about it.”
Additional reporting by Kory Grow