Jihae Oh CMC ’24 and Belen Padilla ’25
The 2022 Super Bowl halftime show was one word – incredible. Making history as the first all hip-hop/rap performance, the show featured artists Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar. Each artist brought the empowering, soulful, and smooth elements of hip-hop to the stage.
The show began with the anticipating beat of Dr. Dre’s “In The Club” featuring Snoop Dogg. The two artists took opposite sides of the stage. The set had a neighborhood feel to it with Los Angeles landmarks and dancers dressed in street clothes. According to The New Yorker, “The field was laid out to resemble the Compton city grid, with an all-white set including Tam’s Burgers, the night club Eve After Dark, and a sculptural recreation of the M.L.K. memorial that sits in front of the Compton courthouse.”
The artists were on top of the set, interacting with it as the song progressed. The second song this duo performed was “California Love.” So much great energy came from the two as they hyped each other up and joined in on lyrics together. At the end of the song, they kneeled down pointing to 50 Cent who was hanging upside down from the ceiling of a set resembling a club.
50 Cent performed the infamous “In Da Club.” I think it’s important to note that whenever there is a straight man surrounded by an assemblage of female dancers, it’s difficult to not pick up on misogynistic undertones. However, these dancers were giving lots of empowering female energy that I found uplifting rather than degrading, and made me also want to get up and dance.
50 Cent’s song ended as the performance moved on top of the set with Mary J. Blige standing in thigh high silver boots with long blond hair. She performed “Family Affair” and “No More Drama” with both confidence and elegance. Backup dancers in all silver outfits spread the length of the set. Blige joined in on some moves showing her amazing performing skills and vivacity.
Kendrick Lamar’s performance of “m.A.A.d City” and “Alright” featured black male dancers with blond hair wearing black suits with green sashes that said “Dre Day”. With all black outfits and soldier-like movements, this performance had a black suffering aesthetic that was very powerful to me.
The internet did have things to say, however, about Lamar leaving out the phrase “And we hate the po-po” in his song “Alright.” It is possible that the network asked Lamar to censor the phrase because, according to The New Yorker, there were rumors that the NFL had asked Dr. Dre to not perform the line “still not loving the police” (he rapped it anyways), but the question of why still remains unclear.
The audience was again directed to the top of the set where Eminem stepped in to perform “Lose Yourself.” There was a surprise appearance of Anderson .Paak with big smiles and great energy on the drums. Dr. Dre is in the background of the performance played with what appeared to be a soundboard– only fitting because he was Eminem’s producer and mentor. At the end of his performance, Eminem took a knee as an homage to Colin Kaepernick.
Dr. Dre then hopped on the piano and played an interlude to his song “Still D.R.E.” He and Snoop Dogg end the show with a performance of this song. All artists took center stage as the song concluded and the backup dancers formed a circle around them.
This halftime show brought a sense of nostalgia along with racial pride that produced a coherent and moving performance. Dre. Dre and Snoop Dogg had a chill demeanor that only comes from their experience, talent, and according to The New Yorker, maybe some good weed.
Mary J. Blige’s voice reverberated through the stadium with a power and lilt that only she has. Each artist brought something unique and integral to the perfect execution of this performance. From the choreography of the dancers, to the set, to Snoop Dogg crip walking on stage, this halftime show was certainly one for the books.
Image Source: Entertainment Weekly