For the first time ever, the Super Bowl featured a halftime show centered on rap and hip-hop – and as NBC sportscaster Maria Taylor announced just before it kicked off, “It will likely be the greatest halftime performance of all time.”
So, did the show live up to the hype? Here were some of the highlights from the spectacle starring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem:
Q: Was everyone performing in a mansion/dollhouse?
The show kicked off with Dr. Dre and Snoop on the roof of a horizontal mansion/possible dollhouse which housed many different rooms with musicians and backup dancers, all set upon a glittering map of Los Angeles – which made sense, considering the idea of the Inglewood-set show was basically a love letter to California.
“Dr. Dre, a musical visionary from Compton, Snoop Dogg, an icon from Long Beach and Kendrick Lamar, a young musical pioneer in his own right, also from Compton, will take center field for a performance of a lifetime,” Jay-Z, whose company produced the show, said when it was announced, adding they would be joined by “lyrical genius” Eminem and “timeless Queen” Mary J. Blige.
They started with “The Next Episode” and segued into “California Love” while a slew of performers danced all around them in the rooms and on the field below.
Q: Why did Eminem take a knee?
A: While there’s no official answer yet, new publication Puck reported Sunday that “the league nixed a plan by Eminem to kneel, Colin Kaepernick-style.” However, the rapper knelt for awhile after his performance anyway, and it did not go unnoticed.
Q: Why was 50 Cent upside down?
A: There were lots of rumors about possible surprise guests who might show up, one of whom turned out to be none other than 50 Cent for a performance of his 2003 smash “In Da Club.” He suddenly appeared in one of the rooms hanging upside-down, surrounded by club dancers, which seems to be a callback to his original video where he did the same thing. But of course, Twitter immediately started churning out Spider-Man and bat memes.
Q: Was everyone required only to play their biggest hits?
A: Clearly! And as they should. With limited time for five acts, you have to go with what people know: Blige sparkled, literally, as she belted out “Family Affair” and “No More Drama”; Kendrick Lamar popped up amid a bunch of boxes labeled “Dre Day” to launch into “Alright”; and Eminem appeared to blow up a building with a frenetic version of “Lose Yourself.” But everyone joined together, back on the roof, for “The Next Episode.”
Q: What’s Tam’s Burgers?
A: If you’re not from California, you may have been wondering about the many shots of the Tam’s Burgers sign, which got plenty of airtime – turns out it’s a burger place in Compton. (This sparked an extremely excited reaction on social media.) There were even more nods to Compton, including the sign for Eve’s After Dark, another shout-out to a nightclub very important to Dr. Dre’s origin story.
Q: Was that Anderson .Paak?
A: Indeed! The rapper and recording partner of Bruno Mars seemed thrilled to be drumming along on the roof with all his friends.