Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/GI
What happens when you put the Kings of Hip-Hop on the world’s biggest stage with the Queen of Hip-Hop and Soul? You get one of the best half-time shows in the NFL’s history, and this certainly was the case when it came to this year’s show. Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and rap god Eminem took center stage for this year’s Pepsi halftime show during Super Bowl LVI.
“It’s crazy that it took all of this time for us to be recognized,” Dr. Dre said at the game’s official news conference last week. And he certainly was right, because this was the first year where hip-hop took not only center stage, but was given its past due shine. The stage was set like a deconstructed house in Compton, each room and or floor having a vibe of its own (a smoke-filled one at that).
The show opened with Dr. Dre behind a mock mixing board, letting the world know his greatest gift in the rap game, producing. 50 Cent then comes in to join as a surprise guest hanging upside down from the ceiling of the set, performing his breakout hit “In Da Club”, one of Dr. Dre’s most known productions.
For the next 12-minutes, the hits followed. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, (while wearing a blue bandanna-themed sweatsuit) performed “California Love.” Queen Mary J. Blige sparkled, literally, as she belted out “Family Affair” with the iconic dance breakdown and later dived into “No More Drama” before the R&B icon was left laid out on the stage, exhausted.
Kendrick Lamar popped up amid a bunch of boxes labeled “Dre Day” to launch into “Alright”, and rapping “m.A.A.d city” and his anthem “Alright” as he danced in the middle of a crew of blonde-buzzcut dancers reminiscent of Beyoncé’s Formation. Eminem brought down a house (quite literally) while introducing himself with “Forgot About Dre” and then proceeded to do a stadium-shaking performance of “Lose Yourself.” He even had the most political stance of the night when Em decided to take a knee during the performance, apparently in honor of Colin Kaepernick.
Hip-hop has a unique ability to bring together people of all ages, races, and sexes unlike any other genre can. There was a passing of the hip-hop torch to the next generation of rap fans and this amazing crew did just that. It was awesome to see hip-hop recognized internationally on America’s biggest stage. The NFL has a ton more work to do when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and it has even more work to do when it comes to racial equity and ownership. But if this performance showed us anything, it’s that hip-hop can’t and won’t stop.