Last night, a report surfaced explaining that Jay Z and Justin Timberlake would be cancelling their Florida tourdates in a show of solidarity with Stevie Wonder, currently boycotting any Florida concerts in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. But as the report gains stream, there's little backing up any truth to this.
Representatives for both Justin Timberlake and Jay Z have not responded to repeated requests for comment from Complex, nor have they issued comment to any other news outlets. That hasn't stopped an unnamed "executive affiliated with the 'Legends of the Summer' tour" from denying the news.
The report originated from American Urban Radio Networks' national affairs and White House correspondent April Ryan, who—in addition to Jay Z and JT—also cited the Rolling Stones, R. Kelly, Rihanna, Kanye West, Usher, Madonna, and many more who would be joining Wonder in his protest of Florida's Stand Your Ground laws. Since it was picked up and repeated by the Huffington Post, reps for both the Rolling Stones and Rihanna have denied any part of a boycott.
In an update to her own post, Ryan explains:
I obtained from multiple sources early Monday a list of artists and entertainers who my sources told me had committed to a boycott of Florida following the George Zimmerman acquittal. Since publishing that list I have heard from several representatives of the artists named who say, on behalf of their clients, they are uncomfortable being identified on that list and are seeking additional information.
All of the denials and complete lack of information didn't get in the way of one Florida Republican already rushing to denounced both Jay Z and Timberlake for their (non-existent) boycott of Florida, as Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart went on a local talk radio show to call both of them "silly and foolish" as well as people who "hobnob with the regime," a sideways shot aimed at Jay Z's recent visit to Cuba.
So, what's the deal here? A great political play.
In all likelihood, someone planted a juicy, huge news scoop with a reporter that's mostly bullshit. In exchange for getting a reporter to print it, whoever planted the story forces Jay Z and everyone else on that list to have to deny not joining Stevie Wonder in solidarity in protesting Florida. Get it? It's a really sharp tactic to try and affect the public perception of where these very famous, very lucrative artists' political priorities lay. It's probably not going to work. But it was a nice try.
Even as artists peel off to announce they won't be joining the boycott, we should note that, for one thing, we haven't recieved a denial from either artists' camps yet. For another, far crazier things than a boycott like this have been happened. If we hear anything more, we'll update in this post. And of course, if you know anything more, feel free to give us a shout.