The Super Bowl Halftime Show lineup didn’t get much more star-studded than Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and surprise artists 50 Cent and Anderson.Paak, who took the stage at LA’s SoFi Stadium on 13th February. With a group of true legends like that performing, it seemed improbable that this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show would fall flat, and it didn’t. The musicians collaborated for 15 minutes to take us on a nostalgic journey through some of hip-hop and R&B’s most classic hits — these are the highlights from the event.
Eminem takes the knee
Before the Super Bowl started, there were rumours of censoring (which the NFL denied), but if they were true, the artists paid little notice. Eminem knelt on top of the little building he was performing from after giving a performance of 8 Mile’s “Lose Yourself,” a copy of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racial inequality and police brutality in America. After his protests sparked a divisive reaction among fans – and drew Donald Trump’s ire – the former 49ers quarterback was all but driven out of the NFL, so Eminem giving him the nod during probably the most important sporting event of the year was a bold move.
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg belt out the classics
The Super Bowl Halftime Show was bookended by performances from Dre and Snoop, who initially performed ‘The Next Episode’ and a version of 2Pac’s ‘California Love’. The pair returned for a version of ‘Still D.R.E.’ after the rest of the night’s stars had had their turn in the spotlight. The latter was significant for yet another instance of the stars allegedly violating the NFL – according to reports, the league had warned Dre not to rap the lyric “still not loving police,” but he did it anyway.
Kendrick Lamar makes a statement with ‘Alright’
After its release in 2015, Kendrick Lamar’s record “Alright” quickly became a positive anthem of resistance, being chanted in protests against police brutality in the United States as a sign of defiance and hope. After launching his section of the halftime concert with ‘m.A.A.d City,’ the rapper shared a rendition of the song, adding another layer of political commentary to the night’s events alongside Eminem and Dre’s actions.
Anderson .Paak pops up on ‘Lose Yourself’
During ‘Lose Yourself,’ a familiar face flashed on the screen before Eminem took the knee. Anderson is a fictional character. Paak appeared on the single in a low-key manner, playing the drums and rapping along with a big smile on his face. Though .Paak didn’t get a chance to get on the mic, yet it provided a nice link between the headliners’ classic west coast hip-hop and the newer generation pushing the sound forward.
50 Cent makes a surprise appearance
Fans were treated to a stunning surprise early in the halftime show when the camera swooped down from the roof where Dre and Snoop were performing to reveal 50 Cent hanging upside down a floor below. The dramatic entrance was a nod to his video for the massive 2003 hit ‘In Da Club,’ which he performed while suspended from the rafters, with dancers recreating a club scene underneath him. After a few lines, he slowly descended from the ceiling and resumed his act in the upright position.
Fiddy’s unusual beginning to his segment has rapidly become a meme, with the rapper being compared to everyone from Spider-Man to a vampire bat.
Mary J. Blige delivers a power packed performance
Mary J. Blige, more than made the stage her own with a two-song set full of powerful vocals. For a rendition of 2001’s ‘Family Affair,’ the actress was joined by dancers dressed in sparkling silver attire that matched her own, before being left to dominate the stage alone for the legendary ‘No More Drama.’ The latter saw her bring out the acrobatic ad-libs, demonstrating why she’s regarded as a legendary figure in R&B, as Missy Elliott herself tweeted.