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Dre, Snoop Dogg And More Hip-Hop Icons Bring ‘California Love’ To Super Bowl Halftime Show

An overview fatures white buildings and a map of L.A. streets on the field at SoFi Stadium
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg perform during the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13, 2022.
(Gregory Shamus
/
Getty Images)
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By halftime Sunday, everything was coming up Los Angeles.

The LA Rams went into halftime in the lead just as Dr. Dre took the stage to lead a halftime show. (And yes, the final score had Rams the Super Bowl champs 23-20 over the Cincinnati Bengals)

That halftime show took us through 30 years of hip-hop, showing how much West Coast rap has been at the center of our culture all these years.

There’ve been rap acts during halftimes before, but they’ve largely fallen near the more pop-oriented end of the spectrum — such as the Black Eyed Peas headlining in 2011, or P. Diddy and Nelly joining Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Jessica Simpson at the MTV-produced 2004 halftime show.

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This was the first time we’ve seen a halftime show that spent its full run representing hip-hop culture, along with a lot of it representing L.A.

Origin Shot: Compton

The performance opened with shots of Compton, pulling out into a map that wound up being on the hand of Dr. Dre. We pull out from the prerecorded video package to Dre behind a giant mixing board, the producer/rapper taking the reins in kicking us off — much like he did in the Super Bowl hype trailer where he put in calls to the rest of this year’s headliners and they all started the trek to come together.

The epic stage took over much of the field, with five interlocking-boxed stages. Performance took place atop and inside those boxes. In front of the faux rooms were a line of low riders, all of it with a map of South L.A. underneath.

It could come off as cocky for Compton’s Dre to be leading what was often a tribute to himself, but that’s thanks to his own influence as a master producer who defined the sound of rap dating back to the 1980s.

We didn’t hear anything off of his seminal classic The Chronic— no “Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang” may have been the biggest surprise of the whole show. But he both opened and closed this quarter hour with songs off his second album, 2001: “Next Episode” and “Still D.R.E.,” both featuring Snoop Dogg. And you knew we were getting some hometown representation right off the bat, as Snoop Dogg rocked a Rans team colors blue-and-yellow sweat ensemble.

Dre transitioned from “The Next Episode” to a bit of “California Love,” which he also produced and rapped on. There was no 2pac hologram like we saw at 2012’s Coachella, but the spirit of the man who became the No1 1 icon of West Coast rap for much of its history was in the air as the stadium grooved to an all-time banger.

Protégés Have Their Moments

Dre’s Detroit protégé Eminem would come out later, but first, Eminem’s own one-time protégé 50 Cent appeared as a special surprise guest dropping “In Da Club.” He was followed by one of the East Coast performers showing the bicoastal game coming to this stadium, Mary J. Blige representing the Bronx with both the dance-y “Family Affair” and giving us all a chance to breathe with the ballad “No More Drama.”

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Another Compton representative in the halftime show, Kendrick Lamar — a rap icon in his own right — also paid tribute to Dre, opening his performance with dancers all wearing sashes reading “Dre Day.” Eminem made his own epic entrance after Kendrick’s songs, joining in for another self-referential Dre song: “Forgot About Dre.”

Once he was out there, Eminem also paid tribute to another man who made a huge impact on California, dropping to one knee a la Colin Kaepernick’s famed protest against racial injustice while with the San Francisco 49ers. There were reports from journalism startup Puck before the show that the NFL objected to Eminem’s plans ahead of the show, along with some of the lyrics from Dre. But the NFL at least denied the Eminem part of that ahead of the game, according to the New York Post, noting that players had been kneeling since 2016 without being sanctioned and that the same would apply to the halftime performers.

We saw another Southern Californian in a subtle surprise appearance — Oxnard’s Anderson Paak, who played drums for Eminem on his inspirational anthem “Lose Yourself.”

From left to right, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Curtis "50 cent" Jackson and Snoog Dog appear on a white stage.
Featured performers at Super Bowl LVI.
(Valerie Macon
/
AFP via Getty Images)

Compton In The House

During the final number, “Still D.R.E.,” performers waved Compton flags as we all soaked in just how much one kid from Compton managed to do. He was joined by his fellow headliners, along with surprise guest 50 Cent, to close the show down as Los Angeles — and the world — watched on.

So was this all enough Los Angeles for you? The last time the game was in the L.A. area was 1993 for the Rose Bowl, but hopefully we won’t have to be quite so patient before seeing another SoCal halftime show.

Hey, we’ve got two teams here now — show us some love, NFL. Though maybe give us some space while we’re busy hosting what may be an even more epic sports event: the 2028 Olympics.

If you missed it, or just want to relive this L.A. moment in the sun, you can watch the full Super Bowl 56 halftime show here.

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