Stephen A. Smith gave his take on Rihanna’s upcoming Super Bowl halftime performance, and it isn’t landing well with fans.
On Wednesday (January 18), Smith appeared on Sherri, Sherri Shepherd’s daytime talk show, and was asked whether he was “excited” about Rihanna’s highly-anticipated halftime show at Super Bowl LVII on February 12.
“I don’t wanna say I’m not excited,” the ESPN personality said, per TMZ. “She’s fantastic. That’s not where I’m going with this. Ladies and gentlemen, she’s a lot of things. She’s spectacular, actually. And congratulations on new-momma-hood. There’s one thing she’s not. She ain’t Beyoncé.”
Smith elaborated on his contentious take, which garnered an audible reaction from the studio audience.
“Hold on. … The only reason I brought up Beyoncé is because Beyoncé recently performed at the Super Bowl, with and without Bruno Mars and Coldplay,” he said, referring to Beyoncé’s past Super Bowl performances.
Shepherd pushed back on Smith’s comments, noting that Beyoncé has “had her time” on the Super Bowl stage.
But the First Take host seemingly doubled down on his sentiments, comparing the situation to his thoughts on Shepherd’s hosting.
“I like television,” Smith said. “I like a lot of talent out there. There’s some spectacular females in television, I just want to say that. Everybody ain’t Sherri. That’s not throwing shading on them. That’s appreciating their greatness but understanding, there’s levels!”
“Rihanna’s music is fantastic,” he continued. “She’s great. She’s a sister. I love her dearly. I listen to her music. I’m gonna support her until the cows come home. I’m just telling you: for me, there’s Beyoncé and there’s everybody else. Just like there was Michael Jackson and there’s everybody else.”
See how social media is reacting to Smith’s take on Rihanna below.