The LVI Super Bowl Halftime Show aired on Feb. 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar — need I say more? With some of the biggest hip-hop heavyweights combining forces to put on a performance, it’s like the Avengers assembled on stage. Displaying the signature Pepsi Halftime Show logo in space and then zeroing in on Compton, Los Angeles, the camera fades out to disclose a map of the city on Dr. Dre’s palm. He then moves his fingers up the soundboard to initiate mixing beats. He elevates from inside the stage, to front and center. He grabs the audience’s attention as “The Next Episode” feat. Snoop Dogg blares throughout SoFi Stadium’s packed 70,000+ seats. We are then met with the man, the myth, the Dogg himself. He’s dripped out in royal blue, highlighter yellow, and a gold-designed crewneck and sweatpants, along with matching solid gold sunglasses and microphone because c’mon, why wouldn’t he? The camera zooms out to reveal the evening’s performance setup, which includes five white stages — representative of houses with each of them having their front wall missing — connected side by side with three Chevrolet Impala Lowriders, owned by Members of the Public Enemy Car Club of Los Angeles, in the field in front of three of the stages.
Shifting from the 2001 throwback jam to an even more nostalgic one, it’s not a West Coast Cali party without Tupac Shakur’s — better known by his stage name 2Pac — smash hit “California Love.” When the first chords of this song ring throughout SoFi, the crowd’s energy immediately spikes as Dre takes the lead on rapping the late artist’s verses. Although he is no 2Pac, he surely doesn’t upset. The floodgates open and a multitude of dancers flow out for this tune, swarming the stages and the field. The sheer love for The Golden State is evident throughout both performances. This song cleanly transitions as Dre and Dogg point down and the camera shifts from the Cali boys to … 50 Cent? He wasn’t on the roster, but is a surprise accepted with open arms. He performs “In Da Club” upside down in a blood red room, surrounded by dancers, in his signature white sweatband fully embodying his early 2000s music video.
With another crisp transition underway, 50 and his dancers look up as the camera is now locked in on the queen of hip-hop herself — Blige. She is decked out in a sparkly, silver fit paired with thigh-high boots to complete the flashy look. Her smooth, honey-like vocals echo the lyrics of “Family Affair” as she has three dancers — in similar outfits — on each side of her. Slowing down the pace of the high-energy show, Blige belts “No More Drama” and pours her heart and soul into every single one of those words. Toward the end she is practically pleading for “no more drama” and a “peace of mind” as she delivers one of the best performances of her career.
She ends her performance by collapsing backward onto the stage, and we switch to the most contemporary artist of the night — Lamar. The intro to "m.A.A.d. City" plays as Lamar is engulfed in the middle of a plethora of dancers wearing all-black attire, sashes with the green words “Dre Day” on them, and each standing in a cardboard box with “Dre Day” stamped in black on the front. The song then shifts to his To Pimp a Butterfly single, “Alright.” The dancers each flee — with boxes in hand — and come back seconds later to their choreography being a mixture of salutes and marching moves. These are by far the best dancers throughout this whole performance (seriously, I was entranced by them). Lamar is simply a model performer; he knows how to captivate an audience and keep them in that state for the entirety of his performance.
Then, Eminem’s one-of-a-kind vocals sound throughout the arena; the camera pans to the highest point of one of the stages as the top of it explodes and Eminem is exposed. He fittingly raps the beginning of “Forget About Dre” which evolves into his No. 1 hit, “Lose Yourself” as he moves to a different stage. Eminem is joined by a live band, but one member stands out. The viewer is met with a radiant smile and a deep purple blazer, from the likes of none other than Anderson .Paak completely shredding it on the drums. A sea of people in neutral hoodies and sweatpants with their hoods up and phones in hand are unleashed onto the field and sprint toward the stage. The rendition of the song ends in the rapper taking a knee — presumably a nod to former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
To close out the star-studded performance, Dre makes his way over from his soundboard to the piano that is stage left of Eminem. He plays the distinguishable notes from “Still D.R.E.,” which again features close friend Dogg, as the iconic '90s titans return to center stage. The other performers — 50, Blige, Lamar, and Eminem — emerge as they all sing the final line in unison, “This is the D.R.E.”
The only complaint I have of this performance is after it ended I found myself asking: is it over already? I needed more. This 13-minute and 35-second performance seems even shorter, because of how many artists they squeeze into it. If I could change it, I would add at least one more song for each artist to perform. Though unsatisfied with the length of the performance, all in all it is an unparalleled Super Bowl Halftime Show and one of the top 10 best of all time. It is clear how much effort, time, and money went into creating the show. So, how is the NFL going to top it next year?
Watch the full Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show here.
Featured Image by RollingStone