LOS ANGELES — Not one, not five, but six hip-hop icons took to the stage at SoFi stadium Sunday -- performing together for the first time at America's biggest sporting event.
Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar's halftime show began on an elaborate, moving set of white buildings bedecked with color-changing lights. The set was surrounded by what looked like a lit-up cityscape from above.
The big surprise of the show -- earlier hinted at by Dr. Dre -- came when rapper 50 Cent descended upside-down from the ceiling of one of the buildings. He performed in a club-style set illuminated by flashing red lights. The next star to make an entrance was Lamar, who leapt out of a set of large boxes labeled "Dre Day" with a crowd of backup dancers.
The high-energy show took a different route when Dr. Dre sat down at a piano, briefly playing Tupac Shakur's "I Ain't Mad At Cha" as a nod to one of the most influential rappers of all time. Dre shifted to the opening notes of "Still D.R.E.," a hit 1999 song featuring Snoop Dogg. The artists, initially separated in different parts of the set, ended the performance together.
Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg earlier vowed that their Super Bowl halftime show would create more opportunities for the genre. Deaf stars Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes joined the lineup as well to perform American Sign Language as the superstars sing on stage in an inclusive and accessible show.
“We’re going to open more doors for hip-hop artists in the future and making sure that the NFL understands that this is what it should have been long time ago," Dre said at a moderated appearance the trio made Thursday without their Super Bowl co-headliners Kendrick Lamar and Eminem.
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Snoop Dogg called it a “great moment” that combined “the biggest sporting event in the world” with hip-hop, “the biggest form of music in the world.”
“We appreciate the NFL for even entertaining hip-hop because we know a lot of people that don’t want hip-hop onstage," he said. “But we’re here now and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The five music artists have a combined 44 Grammys. Eminem has the most with 15. Blige is the only return performer among the group — she was part of an ensemble cast that featured Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears and Nelly back in 2001.
Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Blige and Lamar join a list of celebrated musicians who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Beyoncé, Madonna, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and most recently The Weeknd.