Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and surprise guest 50 Cent made history when they performed at the Super Bowl LVI Pepsi Halftime Show on February 13.
While Hip Hop artists have certainly graced the Super Bowl halftime show stage at various points across its 55-year history, this was the first year fans got to see Crip walking and a line about “still not loving police” performed at The Big Game.
This has been an exceptionally hyped half-time show, even by the standards of the Super Bowl, where the mythologizing is almost as much of a sport as the football itself. Dr. Dre, the most influential producer in rap history, gathered a cast of 90s hip-hop and R&B legends, including Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar, the great west coast hip-hop talent of his generation, who attended the same Compton high school as Dre.
The NFL released a four-minute trailer, a third as long as the performance itself, three weeks in advance.
Notwithstanding all the excitement, the halftime show felt new and different, with a director and soundtrack that were both more creative than the usual standbys of marching bands and phoney fans on the field.
Anderson. I. Paak’s live band brought together more of a collaborative spirit and some clever interstitial set pieces.
Snoop Dogg, decked in a royal ultramarine blue tracksuit, and Dr. Dre opened the show on a stage designed to look like a Compton street (complete with a replica of the MLK memorial outside the Compton Civic Center, designed by the groundbreaking black architect Harold Williams).
When they finished performing The Next Episode and California Love, they both had that giddy look of two men who were proud of how far they’d come (although there was no 2Pac hologram to join them for the latter, despite rumors).
Outside, on a map of Compton’s streets, a group of dancers were freestyling, and inside the houses, more dancers and the band were playing on couches, creating a lively scene.
50 Cent came down from the roof of one of the houses and performed his 2003 hit “In Da Club” while hanging from the ceiling. He also did some fun nightclub dance moves that have been done at every birthday party where this song has been played since it came out.
Mary J. Blige hardly had time to catch her breath before she was performing atop the set, belting out such hits as Family Affair and No More Drama as the camera panned wildly between her rousing rooftop set and the party scenes below.
During his halftime show performance at the Super Bowl, Eminem kneeled.
The NFL says it did not try to stop Eminem from kneeling during the halftime show of the Super Bowl.
When Kendrick Lamar and his army of zombie dancers emerged from a series of cardboard boxes to perform Maad City and Alright, she stepped aside to make way for Eminem’s set-piece performance of Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile.
After a brief piano riff from 2Pac’s “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,” Dr. Dre performed Still Dre, a song that pays homage to his unrivaled dominance over west coast hip-hop, to an audience that included artists from three generations he mentored, collaborated with, and produced.