A hip-hop household affair that was exhilarating and lengthy overdue

Forty-four Grammys. Twenty-two No. 1 Billboard albums. An precise Pulitzer. Has the NFL ever welcomed this a lot expertise onto one stage? Sunday night time, for the primary time, the Tremendous Bowl halftime present positioned hip-hop entrance and heart, inviting 5 icons — Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige. Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar — to carry out their hits for an anticipated viewers of 100 million. Contemplating that hip-hop has dominated the charts for 20 years, mounting a halftime spectacle centered across the style now feels woefully overdue. It additionally feels pointed.

Whereas the Tremendous Bowl has featured its fair proportion of hip-hop artists, they’ve at all times performed second fiddle to safer, extra palatable pop and rock headliners: Nelly and Mary J. Blige cameoed in an ‘N Sync- and Aerosmith-fronted present in 2001; Nelly and P. Diddy supported Child Rock, Justin Timberlake, and Janet Jackson in 2004 (everyone knows how that night went); Nicki Minaj lent Madonna some hard-edged cred in 2012; and Missy Elliott paired up with Katy Perry in 2015 (certain!).

However occasions have modified — and never simply by way of streaming numbers and report gross sales. As The New York Instances reported this previous week, 70 p.c of NFL gamers are Black, nevertheless it has no Black house owners. In the meantime, this month, fired Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL for discriminating towards him and different males of shade within the hiring course of.

Tremendous Bowl Halftime Present

Gregory Shamus/Getty Photographs Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg carry out through the Pepsi Tremendous Bowl LVI Halftime Present at SoFi Stadium.

In 2017, a 12 months after former quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled through the nationwide anthem in protest of police brutality, Jay-Z declined to take part within the Tremendous Bowl and inspired different artists to comply with swimsuit. Many continued to hitch him in solidarity of Kaepernick till the NFL acknowledged it had an enormous mess to wash up. For 2020’s Tremendous Bowl LIV, the league teamed with Jay-Z’s leisure company, Roc Nation, and secured a various, formidable lineup — Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Dangerous Bunny, and J Balvin — for a present that felt recent, acquainted, thrilling, and related.

This 12 months’s spectacle at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., is the third in a row produced by Roc Nation (it recruited the Weeknd for its toned-down, pandemic-friendlier 2021 present), nevertheless it was by far its most anticipated, most charged, and most pleasurable. Enlisting West Coast legends Dr. Dre, Snoop, and Lamar turned out to be a canny transfer. A way of home-turf satisfaction and unity permeated the air even earlier than Dre, serving as emcee, first appeared behind the flowery set’s fake mixing board. Wanting like a white, pristine prepare, its carriage facades stripped away to disclose among the hippest, most illustrious passengers ever, the set paid homage to Dre’s close by stomping grounds, Compton, boasting replicas of native favorites like Tam’s Burgers and Dale’s Donuts.

Super Bowl Halftime Show

Tremendous Bowl Halftime Present

Rob Carr/Getty Photographs Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg carry out through the Pepsi Tremendous Bowl LVI Halftime Present.

However what to anticipate from Dre, who co-founded N.W.A., a gangsta rap group most well-known for his or her music “F— Tha Police,” and Lamar, whose lauded 2015 single “Alright” is now just about synonymous with the Black Lives Matter motion?

In the long run, politics took a again seat to the social gathering, which might be simply what the Dr. ordered. There have been no stunts, no off-script detours. Eminem was the one musician to shout out Kaepernick, taking a knee to conclude a rousing rendition of his Oscar-winning barn burner “Lose Your self.” After the present, an NFL spokesperson reportedly stated organizers knew he would accomplish that. (Progress or acquiescence?) Lamar carried out “Alright,” however he appeared to clean its traditional line “po-po wanna kill us lifeless on the street for certain.” Dre did get away with the lyrics “nonetheless not loving police,” from his music “Nonetheless D.R.E.,” however they arrived on the present’s finale, after 5 hip-hop titans — plus shock visitor 50 Cent — had already served up 30 years’ value of classics. We had been all misplaced in a wonderful haze of nostalgia by then.

Which is another excuse the present labored so nicely. Nobody tried to promote us on new materials (although Blige may simply have slipped in “Superb,” from her very strong just-released album, Good Morning Attractive). It was hit after hair-raising hit, flyly stitched collectively like that insane blue-and-pink paisley sweatsuit quantity Snoop sported, the sample of which I need plastered throughout my lavatory instantly.

Snoop and Dre kicked off the proceedings with “The Subsequent Episode,” Snoop’s supply as artless and sinewy as ever, earlier than transitioning into the late 2Pac’s “California Love,” a Dre-produced minimize that name-checks each Inglewood and Compton. Then the digicam panned to the unannounced 50 Cent, dropping the other way up from the ceiling above a cluster of writhing girl dancers, trying like some sexy bat, earlier than launching right into a barely tepid efficiency of “In Da Membership,” one other Dre manufacturing. (It was the low level of the set, however nonetheless good enjoyable.)

Super Bowl Halftime Show

Tremendous Bowl Halftime Present

Rob Carr/Getty Photographs Mary J. Blige performs through the Pepsi Tremendous Bowl LVI Halftime Present at SoFi Stadium.

After which got here Mary. Perhaps it is as a result of she was the one artist who truly sang. Perhaps it is as a result of she appeared like a disco ball had shattered throughout her and all she may do was belt concerning the glamorous ache of all of it. Perhaps it is as a result of she selected to drag “Household Affair” (her first No. 1 single, one other Dre-produced hit) and “No Extra Drama” out of the sacred vault of Nice Diva Anthems after which actually collapse to the bottom afterwards like her two-punch medley had killed her similar to it had killed all of us. No matter it was, Blige reminded her rapt viewers what energy, hard-won independence, and survival sound like. Her return could not come at a greater time.

Super Bowl Halftime Show

Tremendous Bowl Halftime Present

Steph Chambers/Getty Photographs Kendrick Lamar performs within the Tremendous Bowl halftime present.

After Dre protégé Eminem’s bracing “Lose Your self” (by which he was backed by the Free Nationals and Anderson .Paak on drums) and Dre descendant Lamar’s crisply stylized “Alright” (by which a militia of Black dancers emerged from cardboard bins labeled “Dre Day,” flaunting blond hair and beards and “Dre Day” sashes), all six performers united on the 50-yard line for Dre and Snoop’s “Nonetheless D.R.E.” It was a becoming coda to a watershed second in Tremendous Bowl historical past. Three many years on, it’s nonetheless about Dre. In acknowledging his huge affect — and recognizing that hip-hop has turn out to be the music of the plenty — the NLF appears to lastly be catching up.

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