Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl performance that featured a hologram of Prince went directly against the estate of the legendary singer, who friends say would never have wanted his image used in such a manner. While many saw the gesture as a fitting tribute in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, others called blatant disrespect.
Longtime Prince collaborator Sheila E tweeted late Saturday night that Timberlake had assured her he wouldn’t use a hologram out “of respect for Prince & the Purple fans.”
Family, I spoke w/Justin 2nite and he shared heartfelt words of respect for Prince & the Purple fans. I look 4wrd 2 seeing what I’m sure is going 2 be a spectacular halftime show. There is no hologram. 🙏🏽💋 pic.twitter.com/mhVXBfBa1B
One of #Prince’s biggest fears as an artist, was his music being misappropriated. It’s why he was so crazy about owning his masters and even gave up his name. This culture-vulture can kick rocks! #SuperBowlLII
The use of the hologram marked the second time he’s disrespected a Black performer at the Super Bowl in a shameless attempt to rediscover his one-time relevance of last decade. No one’s forgotten when he ripped away Janet Jackson’s bra to expose her nipple on live TV in an episode that gave birth to the terms “wardrobe malfunction” and “nipplegate.”
Timberlake has been mad at Prince for at least the past 11 years, when Prince reportedly said, “For whoever is claiming that they are bringing sexy back, sexy never left!” The comment, reported by TMZ, was clearly a shot at Timberlake’s hit song “Sexy Back.”
As Genius reminded us, JT would go on to record a verse on a Timbaland track that included the lyrics, “We missed you on the charts last week; Damn, that’s right you wasn’t there; Now if se-sexy never left, then why is everybody on my shi-i-it? Don’t hate on me just because you didn’t come up with it.”
The weak diss flew below the radar back then, but now, especially after he showed — in Prince’s hometown, of all places! — he didn’t care for the wishes of Prince’s estate, friends and family, his words will probably come back to haunt him in the worst of ways.