Rap Takes Over Tremendous Bowl Halftime, Balancing Celebration and Protest

Main as much as Sunday’s Tremendous Bowl halftime present, a lot ado was remodeled the truth that this may be the primary 12 months that hip-hop occupied the center of the concert. It was advertising and marketing copy that ignored the obtrusive lateness of the achievement — that rap was lastly getting the highlight in maybe the 20-somethingth 12 months of hip-hop occupying the middle of American pop music. Does progress this delayed nonetheless rely as a breakthrough?

After a number of years of grappling with an assortment of racial controversies, the N.F.L. doubtless needed credit score for showcasing Black music — particularly hip-hop, the lingua franca of American popular culture — this prominently. What would a few of rap music’s generational superstars — Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar — titans with little worry for his or her reputations, do with this most seen of platforms?

The tales advised on the SoFi Stadium discipline Sunday night time had been multilayered, a dynamic efficiency sprawling atop a moat of potential political land mines. In the primary, there was exuberant leisure, a medley of hits so central to American pop that it virtually warded off dissent.

Dr. Dre opened up the efficiency behind a mock mixing board, a nod to the foundation of his superstar: the power to mastermind sound. For the following 12 minutes, vivid and thumping hits adopted, together with “The Subsequent Episode,” a wiry collaboration between Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, carrying a blue bandanna-themed sweatsuit; “California Love” (mercifully, delivered and not using a hologram of Tupac Shakur, as some had rumored); Eminem’s stadium-shaking “Lose Your self”; Lamar’s pugnacious and proud “Alright”; and a pair of songs from Mary J. Blige, the lone singer on the invoice.

50 Cent, hanging the wrong way up from the ceiling of the set, was an unannounced visitor, performing his breakout hit “In Da Membership,” considered one of Dr. Dre’s seminal productions. (This was virtually definitely probably the most bleeped halftime present ever.)

The performances had been virtually uniformly wonderful. Lamar was beautiful — ecstatically liquid in move, transferring his physique with jagged vigor. Snoop Dogg was assured past measure, a veteran of high-pressure consolation. Eminem, insular as ever, nonetheless emanated strong rigidity. Blige was commanding, serving to to carry the center section of the present into sluggish focus with a joyous “Household Affair” and “No Extra Drama,” wealthy with purple ache. And Dr. Dre beamed all through, a maestro surveying the spoils of the a long time he spent reorchestrating the form and texture of pop.

However the true battles of this halftime present had been between enthusiasm and cynicism, censorship and protest, the amplification of Black performers on this stage and the stifling of Black voices in numerous levels of protest in opposition to the N.F.L. Simply a few weeks in the past, the N.F.L. was sued by the former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores who stated he had confronted discriminatory hiring practices.

This halftime present, which scanned as an oasis of racial comity if not fairly progressivism, was the third orchestrated as a part of a partnership between the N.F.L. and Jay-Z’s leisure and sports activities firm, Roc Nation, that was struck within the wake of the kneeling protests spawned by Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

“It’s loopy that it took all of this time for us to be acknowledged,” Dr. Dre stated on the recreation’s official information convention final week, underscoring that the N.F.L. primarily selected to attend till hip-hop had change into oldies music — aside from Lamar, each artist onstage Sunday had their business and inventive peak greater than a decade in the past — with a purpose to grant it full rein on its greatest stage.

The N.F.L. is notoriously protecting of its territory, and mishaps on the halftime present — Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, M.I.A.’s center finger — have tended to trigger outsized public brouhahas. Halftime might be one of many final levels on this nation the place hip-hop nonetheless looks like outsider music, amplifying the sense that the pursuits of the league and of the performers may not have been totally aligned.

This 12 months’s occasion additionally passed off in South Los Angeles, simply 20 minutes west of Compton, the place Dr. Dre was a founding father of N.W.A, one of the essential hip-hop teams of all time, godfathers of gangster rap and agit-pop legends. Compton was embedded into the stage setup: the buildings included indicators for its numerous landmarks, together with Tam’s Burgers, Dale’s Donuts, and the nightclub Eve After Darkish, the place Dr. Dre used to carry out along with his first group, World Class Wreckin’ Cru. The dances, from Crip-walking to krumping, had been Los Angeles particular. Three classic Chevrolet Impalas served as visible nods to lowrider tradition. Lamar carried out his section atop a large aerial {photograph} of the town.

Every of these nods felt salient and potent, a approach to make this impossibly international occasion really feel deeply native. Nevertheless it wasn’t clear if the renegade political spirit that was a hip-hop hallmark when Dr. Dre was nonetheless a member of N.W.A would additionally make an look throughout the present.

Just a few hours earlier than the sport started, Puck Information reported that Eminem, the present’s lone white performer, had proposed taking a knee throughout the set, and was denied by the N.F.L. It had the texture of a pre-manufactured controversy, the kind of leak engineered merely to be refuted.

And so there was Eminem, rapping “Alternative comes as soon as in a lifetime” on the finish of “Lose Your self,” placing his proper hand to his head, and dropping personal on his left knee whereas Dr. Dre sat at a white piano and tapped out a melody acquainted from Tupac’s “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” — a flash of radicalism and a jolt of magnificence, a pushback and an embrace, an implicit raised fist and a wink. And after the present was over, an N.F.L. spokesman said that the league knew all alongside that Eminem would kneel. Is it nonetheless protest if it’s been signed off on and accepted?

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/13/arts/music/super-bowl-halftime-show-review.html Rap Takes Over Tremendous Bowl Halftime, Balancing Celebration and Protest

Fry Electronics Team

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