- 14 Feb 22
The all-star cast of hip-hop legends graced the Super Bowl halftime show stage, joined by a verse from 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak on drums.
Last night's Super Bowl saw the L.A. Rams clinch their first cup win in 22 years, beating out the Bengals for the title. But perhaps the most significant part of the games was the halftime show; an event that has hosted the biggest names in music for over five decades.
In recent years, the halftime show has been characterised as the place stars go for a last grasp at relevance, particularly 2019's Maroon 5 show whose main audience reaction was... confusion. Last night, however, is where the NFL finally cemented that the show is, in fact, a celebration of musical legends. The performers were Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, all of whom are the disciples of the headliner and most influential producer in hip-hop: Dr. Dre.
The set began with a scene of Dre reaching towards an all-white soundboard, a map of Compton etched onto his palm. Then, he rose onto the halftime stage, kicking off the show with a performance of 'The Next Episode,' Snoop delivering his verse in a blue and gold tracksuit. The pair then did a rendition of 'California Love,' a song that originally had Dre in collaboration with 2Pac, someone who — given the all-star lineup of hip-hop legends — was surely on everyone's mind.
Special guest 50 Cent next recreated his iconic video for 'In Da Club,' where he rapped while hanging upside down. Mary J. Blige followed with powerful performances of 'Family Affair' and 'No More Drama,' belting it out on the rooftop of the party-house set. The R&B icon gave way to Kendrick Lamar, who sang 'm.A.A.d City' and 'Alright' over an aerial map of Compton (where he and Dr. Dre both grew up), surrounded by an army of zombie dancers wearing 'Dre Day' sashes.
Then came Eminem, playing 'Lose Yourself,' Anderson .Paak grinning and singing along while playing the drums. Finally, Dr. Dre gave his show of 'Still Dre,' while everyone — three generations of artists fostered by the producer — looked on.
This halftime show stands in a different bracket than past acts. Not only was it a show of incredible talent and a celebration of generations of west coast music, but it was also, in some ways, a message. With Lamar singing 'Alright,' an anthem of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Eminem kneeling onstage in an ode to Colin Kaepernick, Dre delivering the line, "Still not loving police" in 'Still Dre,' there was an almost concession by the NFL.
The organisation has actively and publicly punished its players in the past (and present, arguably) for protesting racism. Now, artists who formed their sound and lyricism around their experiences with racism and growing up in over-policed neighbourhoods performed on the biggest, most commercialised stage in US music last night. It was quite the moment.
For an event as ingrained in the American consciousness as the Super Bowl, it feels like maybe an acknowledgment of hip-hop and its culture's impact on the nation.
Online, people are praising the show as the best halftime performance yet — with many claiming it was better than the game itself.
More, please. Best halftime show I’ve ever seen.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 14, 2022
Incredible halftime show. Just flawless. They’ll never top this one.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) February 14, 2022
I think this halftime show needs to have an asterisk making sure that people realize the difference between this one and everyone every other one in the history of the Super Bowl.
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) February 14, 2022
The halftime show was objectively better than the first half
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) February 14, 2022
I still haven’t gotten over that halftime show. Not even close.
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) February 14, 2022
This halftime show can definitely have an overtime period. Keep it going.
— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) February 14, 2022
Mary J Blige sounds amazing. I think she’s owning this. Her show.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) February 14, 2022
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