It doesn’t get much more star-studded than tonight’s (February 13) Super Bowl Halftime Show line-up, which saw Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and surprise performers 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak take to the stage at LA’s SoFi Stadium. With a group of bona fide icons like that involved in the performance, it seemed unlikely that this year’s Super Bowl extravaganza would be underwhelming and it didn’t disappoint. Over the course of 15 minutes, the artists joined together to give us a nostalgic race through some of hip-hop and R&B’s most iconic tracks – these are the biggest moments from the event.
Eminem takes the knee
— Room Rater (@ratemyskyperoom) February 14, 2022
Reports of censorship (which the NFL has denied) were floating around before the Super Bowl got underway tonight but, if they were true, the performers paid no attention. After delivering a rendition of 8 Mile track ‘Lose Yourself’, Eminem knelt on top of the mini building he was performing from – a copy of the move popularised by Colin Kaepernick as a means of protesting racial inequality and police brutality in America. The former 49ers quarterback was all but pushed out of the NFL after his protests caused a divisive reaction among fans – and provoked the ire of Donald Trump – so Eminem giving him the nod during arguably the US’ biggest sporting event of the year was a powerful move.
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg bring out the classics
Dr Dre and Snoop started off the Super Bowl Halftime show! pic.twitter.com/3aaHfGzX2h
— Dallas Cowboys Collaboration (@mailman_phil) February 14, 2022
The Super Bowl Halftime Show was bookended by performances from Dre and Snoop, who first took to the stage to perform ‘The Next Episode’ and a version of 2Pac’s ‘California Love’. After the rest of the night’s stars had taken their turn in the spotlight, the pair returned for a rendition of ‘Still D.R.E.’. The latter was most notable for another instance of the stars apparently defying the NFL – reports had claimed the league had told Dre not to rap the line “still not loving police”, yet he went ahead and did so anyway.
Kendrick Lamar makes a statement with ‘Alright’
— Taekpromotions.net (@therealtaek) February 14, 2022
Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 single ‘Alright’ swiftly become a positive anthem of protest after its release, it being chanted in protests against police brutality in the US as a symbol of defiance and hope. After opening his section of the halftime show with ‘m.A.A.d City’, the rapper shared a version of the track, adding another layer of political statement to the night’s proceedings alongside the actions of Eminem and Dre.
Anderson .Paak pops up on ‘Lose Yourself’
— NFL (@NFL) February 14, 2022
Before Eminem took the knee, a familiar face appeared on the screen during ‘Lose Yourself’. Anderson .Paak made a low-key appearance during the track, playing the drums while rapping along with a big smile on his face. Although .Paak didn’t get the chance to get on the mic, it was a neat connection from the classic west coast hip-hop of the headline acts to the newer generation pushing the sound forward.
While 50 Cent dropped in for his own surprise appearance
— mal (@__mallymal__) February 14, 2022
Early on in the halftime show, fans got a big surprise when the camera panned down from the roof Dre and Snoop were performing from to show 50 Cent hung upside down a floor below. The memorable entrance was a reference to his video for huge 2003 single ‘In Da Club’, which he launched into while still hung from the rafters as dancers recreated a club scene beneath him. A few lines in, he smoothly dismounted from the ceiling and got himself the right way up to finish his performance.
It’s not surprising that Fiddy’s unorthodox start to his segment has quickly become a meme, with the rapper being compared to everyone from Spider-Man to a vampire bat.
Mary J. Blige delivers the power
— 🅱️en Jerry (@BenJeRrY02) February 14, 2022
The only singer on the bill for this special Super Bowl performance, Mary J. Blige more than made the stage her own with a two-song appearance that was packed with powerful vocals. First, the star was joined by dancers dressed in dazzling silver outfits that matched her own for a rendition of 2001 song ‘Family Affair’, before she was left to command the stage by herself during the iconic ‘No More Drama’. The latter saw her break out the acrobatic ad-libs, highlighting just why she’s – as Missy Elliott herself tweeted – considered a legendary figure in R&B.