A Superb Super Bowl Halftime Show
A Superb Super Bowl Halftime Show
Hip-Hop Artists Deliver a Historic Performance
Olivia Riportella ’25
The Super Bowl LVI halftime show could quite possibly go down as the greatest halftime show of all time. With electrifying performances from superstars Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and a surprise appearance from 50 Cent, the 2022 display is truly unmatched.
What is particularly special about this show is that it marks the first time ever that a lineup consisting solely of hip-hop artists has taken the Super Bowl stage. Despite hip-hop dominating mainstream music and the culture of the NFL for quite some time, such artists have never headlined the event until now. However, the league’s celebration of hip-hop and its evolution over the past three decades made for a spectacular, high-energy performance.
The show was kickstarted by the legendary Dr. Dre. If anyone was the star of the night, it was he. He floated up from his producer’s chair with his arms outstretched to Los Angeles, asserting his West Coast’s sonic dominance. Indeed, sitting behind a mixing board in a nod to his roots as a celebrity, he essentially declared himself the patron saint of the West Coast sound. What made Dre stand out the most from his fellow performers is the work that he has done with them over the years, helping each of them achieve some of the most significant milestones of their careers.
The perfect opening, Dre’s timeless song “The Next Episode,” filled the audience with nostalgia as he and Snoop Dogg electrified the stage with ease. Snoop sported a blue and gold bandana-patterned tracksuit from head to toe and topped off the ensemble with white sunglasses, looking cooler than ever. He finished his opening performance by teaming up with Dre to sing hit song “California Love,” originally by Dre and the late Tupac.
Next to perform was unexpected guest 50 Cent, who made an unforgettable surprise appearance. Delivering his smash hit “In Da Club,” 50 Cent showed up below Snoop and Dre hanging upside-down in a red-lit room full of dancers. This iconic entry was a nod to his 2009 music video for “In Da Club,” in which he also appeared hanging upside down from the ceiling.
Next, the feminine energy of Mary J. Blige captivated the audience, as the performance cut to her singing her hit “Family Affair.” Blige was covered in white and silver sparkles from her bodysuit down to her thigh-high boots, surrounded by dancers wearing similar iterations of her dazzling ensemble. Blige then shifted into her hip-hop soul ballad “No More Drama,” solidifying her set as a perfect middle act. Notably, Blige was the only non-rap artist who performed.
Kendrick Lamar was next to take the stage, rising up out of shipping boxes labeled “Dre Day” to perform his iconic song “M.a.a.D. City.” Lamar then switched to his single “Alright,” a rather socially-charged anthem. He was backed by dancers in militaristic black suits, making a clear statement about today’s social climate in the midst of Black History Month. Dre and Eminem then joined Lamar onstage to finish his set with “Forgot About Dre.”
It was then Eminem’s turn to wow the audience. The rapper gave an angsty, chill-inducing performance of his iconic single “Lose Yourself.” He truly shook the stadium as he sang the track more flawlessly than ever. What made Eminem’s performance even more special is the fact that it was Dre who signed him to his very first record deal, and thus played a large role in propelling him to fame. Notably, like Lamar, Eminem also took a political stance, ending his performance by taking a knee in honor of Colin Kaepernick and other African-American NFL players who have protested racial injustice and have been met with controversy.
To cap off this stellar lineup, Dr. Dre returned to the stage. He took to the piano and began to play the opening bars of “Still D.R.E.” At this moment, all of the night’s performers united atop the stage for one final song— one, of course, produced by Dre. The literal and symbolic unity of this ending to their superb performance confirms these artists’ everlasting sonic dominance not only in hip-hop, but across mainstream music as a whole.