For the first time hip-hop headlined the Super Bowl halftime show, starring Dr. Dre and proteges Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Eminem, who invoked a racial justice protest by taking a knee on music’s biggest stage.
Buzz had been building for weeks over the ’90s lovefest that also included Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent onstage midway through Sunday’s game, which had the Los Angeles Rams taking on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dre and Snoop opened the ode to gangsta rap with their hit “The Next Episode,” before paying tribute to Tupac Shakur with “California Love.”
Donning all white and sequins, R&B star Blige then sang “No More Drama,” ahead of Lamar’s performance of “Alright” in front of the stage, surrounded by men donning all black complete with “Dre Day” sashes.
Kaepernick began kneeling during national anthems in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial injustice, triggering controversy for years.
Legendary music mogul Dre then sat at the piano to drop the iconic opening notes of his hit “Still D.R.E.,” before all of the performers joined together to close the rap spectacular.
It was the third straight Super Bowl performance produced by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which was enlisted by the NFL to “amplify the league’s social justice efforts.”
The 2022 edition comes three years after the NFL faced sharp criticism for choosing pop-rock band Maroon 5 to lead the coveted gig — whose audience usually tops 100 million — in Atlanta, long seen as America’s hip-hop capital.
The pre-game show also featured a performance from Jhene Aiko, who sang “America the Beautiful” accompanied by a harpist.