Super Bowl LVI ended up being a night of firsts for Los Angeles. In Inglewood, California, inside the SoFi Stadium, we were given a night with the titans of rap. Before the Los Angeles Rams took home the ultimate prize, in the form of the Vince Lombardi Trophy after a 23-20 victory over young Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, fans everywhere were treated to a particularly memorable halftime show.
While the performance was centered around Dr. Dre and various other Shady/Aftermath performers, it also included legendary singer Mary J. Blige and marked the return of the prolific rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Not only was this the first Super Bowl Halftime performance specifically focused on hip-hop artists, it was also a throwback to Gen X in a night that was full of nostalgia and good feelings.
First the show started out with notable LA landmarks, including Randy’s Donuts, as super producer Dr. Dre got behind the boards and started us off with “The Next Episode,” a classic from his Platinum-selling 1999 album, “2001.”
The medley then made a seamless turn into another Dr. Dre production, the 2Pac classic hometown anthem, “California Love.” Gen X’ers were then treated to a reenactment of 50 Cent’s famous music video for “In da Club”, (a song also produced by Dre) in which an upside down Curtis Jackson, sporting body armor, recites the rhymes.
Then, it was time for Mary J. Blige to take the stage with her memorable hits, “Family Affair” and “No More Drama.” The choreography for all involved is gaudy and high octane, as the crowd literally loses it.
Finally, the special moment of the night, the return of the legendary emcee Kendrick Lamar, in his hometown no less, marks the beginning of his eventual comeback. Rumors swirl about a new single from Lamar as well. For his performance, we are treated to “M.a.a.D City,” a well known banger that reminds you to come correct when visiting the city of angels.
Next, Lamar pans into his greatest rap/pop crossover with the heartfelt “Alright,” which was originally meant as a letter to his community. Unlike most of the other songs, which were cut short, Lamar delivers a full performance of this one and it looks like he is back for good.
Finally, Matthew Stafford isn’t the only Detroit transplant in Los Angeles on this night, as Eminem is revealed. He is joined on the drums by Aftermath’s own Anderson. Paak, who has spent the year alongside Bruno Mars as Silk Sonic. He delivers a riveting rendition of “Lose Yourself” to an adoring crowd.
After his performance, Eminem took a knee and held his head in his hands, ostensibly in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement.
All of the performers reunited as Dr. Dre takes over on the piano. Before lining up the keys for “Still D.R.E.,” an interesting choice, because it was co-written by Jay Z, as this show itself is presented by Roc Nation, he lays down a quick 2Pac tribute by playing the intro to “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,”
That 1996 single is perhaps known as one of Shakur’s best tracks, and while in Los Angeles, the devotion to hometown heroes is obvious. Dre lines up with his fellow performers as these huge stars sing backup for an absolute banger.
During the pre-show press conference last week, Snoop Dogg seized the moment to speak about what a special night this was for hip-hop.
“We’ve got the queen of R&B, we’ve got the king of hip-hop, we’ve got all of his protégés in the place. This is what it’s about,” he said. “This is what hip-hop and the NFL is supposed to be about: about representing, about change, about moving forward.”
Jay Z, as well, was excited to be part of the production of a halftime show featuring only hip-hop.
In a comment before the show, he remarked, “On February 13, 2022, at the Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood, California, in the new SoFi Stadium, Dr. Dre, a musical visionary from Compton; Snoop Dogg, an icon from Long Beach; and Kendrick Lamar, a young musical pioneer in his own right, also from Compton, will take center field for a performance of a lifetime.”
“They will be joined by the lyrical genius Eminem and the timeless Queen Mary J. Blige. This is the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show. This is history in the making.”
This year’s halftime show had a heavy focus on hip-hop and the nostalgia was on point for Generation X viewers everywhere. It has received critical acclaim on social media, where many are citing it as the best halftime show in recent memory.