dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar – three Los Angeles rap titans – took the field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, along with Eminem (a Detroit superstar), singer Mary J. Blige and special guest 50 Cent, to deliver a halftime extravaganza filled with nostalgia and Californian pride.
This year’s show was the third straight show to be co-produced by Roc Nation, the entertainment and sports company led by Jay-Z that partnered with the NFL in 2019 as the league struggled to repair its relationship with artists , who avoided the halftime show in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback who has knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice since 2016.
On Sunday, Eminem knelt and held his head in his hand after performing “Lose Yourself,” his self-determination anthem from the movie 8 Mile.
dr Dre, whose group NWA helped create the template for West Coast gangster rap with their 1988 album Straight Outta Compton and who went on to become a sought-after producer and businessman, last released an album of his own music in 2015, Zur Half-time he was the show’s host, opening and closing the show with some of his best-known productions. Dre, 56, first took the stage to the tune of “The Next Episode,” his 2000 single starring Snoop Dogg.
Snoop Dogg’s early career was closely associated with Dr. Dre connected – his blockbuster 1993 debut “Doggystyle” was released on Death Row Records, the label Dre co-founded, and featured the producer’s signature palate of slow-rolling G-funk. At 50, Snoop has continued to release music but is also widely known as an affable advertiser and entrepreneur. (Last week he acquired the Death Row brand, but not yet its music rights, and released an album called BODR, which stands for Bacc on Death Row.) He was joined by Dr. Dre on a white set meant to resemble Los Angeles Buildings and the pair performed “California Love,” the 1995 Tupac Shakur single.
New York artists were next to take the stage: unannounced guest, 50 Cent, arrived for a version of his 2003 hit “In Da Club,” followed by Mary J. Blige, the 51-year-old singer who turned out has earned legions of fans with her self-confessed, soulful songs about heartbreak and perseverance. Blige, whose 14th studio LP Good Morning Gorgeous was released Friday, sang two of her favorite older anthems, “Family Affair” and “No More Drama,” reaching deep for powerful high notes and finishing the set flat on her back.
Kendrick Lamar, the youngest performer on the show at 34, is also one of the most decorated: in 2018 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his fourth album “DAMN.”, a commercial blockbuster that explored race, faith and the burdens of commercial success. There was little news about the highly anticipated sequel, and he gave no hints at halftime as he performed his 2012 track “MAAD City” and his 2015 song “Alright” with a troupe of carefully choreographed dancers.
Eminem, still a enduring rap star at 49 (his most recent album Music to Be Murdered By hit #1 in 2020), is also a protégé of Dr. Dre, who signed the rapper to his Aftermath label in 1998 and produced early hits like “My Name Is.” “Lose Yourself” featured Anderson.Paak on drums, and when the song ended he knelt beside his mentor while Dr. Dre sat at the piano playing the chords to “Still DRE,” the 1999 song that closed the set and included a snarky line, “I still don’t love the cops.”
The first time a rapper joined a Super Bowl halftime line-up was in 1998: It was Queen Latifah, and she didn’t rap; She sang as part of a Motown tribute. In the years since, hip-hop has landed a handful of moments on one of the biggest stages in sport and entertainment, but it wasn’t in the full spotlight until Sunday night.