While the biggest musical stage of the year is always packaged with weeks worth of hype, the 2022 edition of the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show proved to be especially significant. Brimming with star-power, the set included a medley of cuts from Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige, with mogul and pioneering artist/producer Dr. Dre at the helm.
The 15-minute production was historic in that the assembly of artists represented the first time ever that hip hop took centerstage for the NFL's biggest game - recruiting some of the genre's most influential icons for a memorable hometown performance.
With reports buzzing that the NFL was attempting to censor elements of the show, particularly profanity and the use of lyrics like "...still not lovin' police' from the 2001 hit"Still D.R.E." the artists collectively disregarded the effort yet kept things relatively PG.
Snoop kicked off the set with "The Next Episode" and moved seamlessly into "California Love" which saw Dre rock the mic for his timeless stanza cemented in the lexicon of hip hop with Tupac. Then, fans were taking aback by the first surprise of the set - an upside-down appearance from 50 Cent.
In a visual that has already been memed to death, Dre protege 50 Cent crashed the set to drop his 2003 smash "In Da Club" - an effort made famous by the production of Dr. Dre. First appearing onscreen hanging upside down, the visual was maybe a little less than graceful, albeit a fitting stretch of nostalgia.
Mary J. Blige then turned SoFi Stadium into a house party with her rendition of "Family Affair" and flexed her chops as one of the genre's most indomitable vocalists with a stirring performance of "No More Drama" - of which included another very meme-able moment, before ushering in Compton's next generational superstar.
Kendrick Lamar delivered the most visibly stunning segment of the show, emerging to a prelude of "m.A.A.d. City" then taking on his uplifting assertion of prose with the poignant "Alright". Building to a strong finale, Eminem then emerged, hoodie on and mic in hand to deliver some of his most iconic bars with a version of "Lose Yourself" that prompted a roar from the stadium and featured Anderson Paak on the drums. The performance also made a powerful statement with Eminem channeling the fire of Colin Kaepernick and taking a knee in a show of solidarity.
Closing out the set, hip hop's undefeated tandem of Dre and Snoop traded lines from "Still D.R.E." and stepped into the spotlight to receive their flowers as generational pillars, cultural tastemakers, and hip hop's first ever NFL Halftime heroes - all in front of their hometown crowd.