The 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Performers Go From Compton To Inglewood
Mike Roe watched that riveting halftime show and will have more soon on how it represented L.A. In the meantime, check out our live cartooning of Super Bowl LVI.
With the Super Bowl set to be played next month from the still baby fresh SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, a new trailer/short film’s out hyping the part music fans tune in for: the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show. Yes, between the football and the huge ad campaigns will be a game intermission featuring hip-hop artists from across the country, with a total of 43 Grammys and 22 No. 1 albums between them, performing to inspire you to drink the No. 2 most popular soft drink.
Now, about that shot of DTLA from the ocean: We examine why Dr. Dre is traversing a beach that can't possibly exist
And better than that, around half of the announced performers are from right here in the L.A. area. The new trailer is directed by a legend of both classic hip-hop music videos and iconic films, F. Gary Gray. In the music video world, he was behind Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day,” Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage,” TLC’s “Waterfalls,” OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson,” and many more.
When it comes to film, he directed Ice Cube’s breakout acting performance in Friday as well as other classics like Set It Off, as well as action films from The Italian Job to The Fate of the Furious. He also has experience exploring the iconic history of West Coast rap, directing the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.
“Each time I collaborate with Dre, it seems to mark an important moment in entertainment history,” Graham said in a statement. “I consider it an honor and privilege to authentically build and create this moment with five of the most legendary artists in music history.”
The video, titled “The Call,” opens up with shots of a giant chessboard before quickly transitioning to Detroit’s famed white rapper/extreme talent/also super well-known for threatening both his mom and the mother of his children, Eminem. “Rap God” plays as he constructs lyrics opposite a young man in jeans, a white T-shirt, and bleached blonde hair — the old school Slim Shady version of the emcee. Eminem’s an incredible talent, but would it have hurt anyone to start us off with one of L.A.’s own instead?
But no need to feer — Marshall Mathers picks up his phone, gets on a plane, and heads out to join us here in Los Angeles. Snoop Dogg leads an epic parade of low-riders down a palm-tree-lined street as his Dr. Dre collab “The Next Episode” plays.
We cut to our next artist out of NYC, Mary J. Blige, as she gets her makeup put on and rocks multiple fur coats as photographers fire away, her image displayed in Times Square. The video’s quick to bring it back to L.A., as she gets her own phone notification and hops in the car to drive… we guess across the country? In any case, we see about a second of her somewhere that’s not New York, then see her pulling into Los Angeles on the I-10 West.
Another rapper known for his lyrical prowess is shown writing away on actual paper, Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar, as “Humble” plays. And, humbly enough, he’s tossing out pages as quickly as he writes them up.
The final artist to be introduced is first seen from high in the sky, taking a contemplative walk down a surprisingly empty beach in a long black coat, with a strikingly impossible view of downtown Los Angeles in the background. It’s another Compton native, Dr. Dre — as he walks, giant piano keys pop out of the surf, playing the iconic repetitive intro notes of yet another collabo with Snoop Dogg, “Still D.R.E.”
As we see shots of Snoop Dogg dragging his low-rider and shooting up sparks on the street, we discovered that Dr. Dre has been the chess player this whole time, moving around giant chess pieces across the L.A. skyline, as we realize he’s the one who called all these artists together. It’s an appropriate depiction for the producer known for architecting the West Coast rap sound in the late 1980s and early '90s, as well as taking Eminem as a protege and helping to make him a star.
The music stops for a beat as Snoop and Dre pull up before 2Pac and Dre’s legendary “California Love” hits. Kendrick Lamar pulls up on a bike with high-rise handlebars, Eminem walks out of a passenger jet (he apparently flies commercial?), and Mary J. strides out of her sports car with a long flowing jacket fluttering in the wind behind her.
Finally, they all walk side by side toward SoFi Stadium, the camera pulling out to show… the prominent Pepsi logo being digitally displayed on the stadium’s roof, advertising the halftime show of this, the 56th Super Bowl. Speaking of which, the ad closes with a promo for an app you can download for more of this halftime experience.
“The opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime show, and to do it in my own backyard, will be one of the biggest thrills of my career,” Dre said in a statement when his performance was first announced. (No word yet on his comments on the beach.)
This year’s Super Bowl shows the annual game has come a long way from its early days. The first Super Bowl was played right here in Los Angeles at Memorial Coliseum, all the way back in 1967. That year’s halftime show was a bit different — it featured marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State, bandleader Al Hirt, and the Anaheim High School “Ana-Hi-Steppers Drill Team and Flag Girls.”
It took until the late 1980s and early 1990s for the halftime show to transition away from marching bands and inspirational performing arts group Up With People, though the raciest those shows would get were featuring Chubby Checker in 1988 and the New Kids on the Block in 1991. It took until 2001 and the first halftime show produced by MTV to get the first rapper to appear on a Super Bowl halftime show: Nelly, and only as a special guest rather than one of the primary performers (that would be Aerosmith and 'NSync that year). Also a special guest that year? Mary J. Blige. Now she’s back, no surprise needed.
The last time rappers headlined the halftime show was 2011, when the Black Eyed Peas were accompanied by Usher and Slash. But there have been hip-hop stars who’ve made appearances as special guests many years since, most recently in 2020 with reggaeton stars Bad Bunny and J Balvin.
Showing how much what’s acceptable on the biggest show of the year has changed, this is the first halftime show to feature artists from the hugely influential gangster rap scene of the early to mid-1990s. (Sorry, even though you were friends with B.I.G., we’re not counting your 2004 appearance, P. Diddy.) It also shows the long road back to edginess in a halftime show, after Justin Timberlake ripping open Janet Jackson’s top in the second — and last — halftime show produced by MTV. That moment caused controversy and hurt Jackson’s career (before a recent critical re-evaluation), and led to the Super Bowl getting more conservative with their performers.
So maybe it’s not that edgy to feature the bad boys and girls who broke onto the scene 30 years ago, which also happens to be the last time there was a Super Bowl in the L.A. area (1993’s game at the Rose Bowl). But hey, this year’s show could lead to something really pushing the envelope… in another 30 years or so.
Or they could have the biggest surprise of all time up their sleeves:
If 2Pac faked his own death, anticipating his return when the NFL returned to -- and subsequently hosted a Super Bowl in -- Los Angeles and performed at halftime (thus suggesting he predicted rap's longevity and shift to mainstream), it would be the greatest long con in history.— Matthew Osgood (@MatthewMOsgood) January 20, 2022
Probably not. But we’re also not gonna be surprised when the Tupac hologram shows up. It’s even the 10th anniversary of when it holo-played Coachella! A more likely potential cameo: Jay-Z, given that his Roc Nation is co-producing this year’s halftime show. In a statement, he praised this year’s performers, describing Dre as a musical visionary, Snoop as an icon, Kendrick as a young musical pioneer, Eminem as a lyrical genius, and Mary J. Blige as “the timeless Queen.”
The Super Bowl airs Sunday, Feb. 13 on NBC and Telemundo, streaming on Peacock, from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. And the halftime show takes place… during halftime, and is set to last for 12 minutes.
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