‘The music I grew up on’: For many Angelenos, halftime hip-hop show was Super Bowl MVP
Outside SoFi Stadium on Sunday just before Super Bowl LVI, Ricardo Roberts and Shelley Overton were wearing matching homemade T-shirts that made their loyalties clear. “Only Here for the Halftime Show,” read the shirts, over airbrushed portraits of Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige and Snoop Dogg.
The two had flown in from Chicago for Overton’s 50th birthday, and while they were rooting for the Los Angeles Rams, the event was more a concert than an NFL championship for them. “It’s going to be epic,” the 49-year-old Roberts said. “I think it’s going to be one of the best shows in Super Bowl history.”
He was right. The 14-minute medley was a deep and specific celebration of Black L.A. culture and hip-hop, rooted in the neighborhoods whose skyline now sports a multibillion-dollar home for the Rams. Visual references to Eve’s After Dark, Tam’s Burgers and Compton’s Martin Luther King Memorial flanked boxes of dancers and musicians, all there to assert the importance of the ‘90s and 2000s era of hip-hop that Dr. Dre dominated, and of which Lamar is now heir apparent.
Dre was joined by Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and guest 50 Cent in one of the great halftime shows of all time.
The Super Bowl was only the second football game Talia Shipman, a Silver Lake resident, ever attended. But more than the final score, it was Blige that blew her away.
“This is the music I grew up on and it shaped my love of hip-hop,” she said after the game, en route to catch a shuttle. “They were all amazing, but she really stole the show.”
Jordan Zoagosa from Long Beach loved when 50 Cent descended upside down from the ceiling in an instantly meme-able cameo. After watching pop stars like Coldplay and the Weeknd dominate previous halftime shows, this year’s festivities were something new for Zoagosa and the hip-hop he grew up with.
“That was the greatest halftime show the Super Bowl has ever seen,” Zoagosa said. “L.A. artists, L.A. music and an L.A. team.”
Tam’s Burgers forever: For locals, Compton landmarks steal the Super Bowl halftime show
Tam’s Burgers, Dale’s Donuts, Eve’s After Dark. Compton gets a bright spotlight as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar perform.
Minutes after the performance, lifelong L.A. resident Sade Elhawary, 34, said confidently that it was her favorite halftime show she’d ever seen. “I love Beyoncé, but I’m a West Coast girl,” she said. “To see all of them at once, and even 50 Cent, it feels like it’s in the moment. It’s L.A., in L.A.”
“Did you see the Compton Courthouse?” she said. “And the lowriders? They had the map of L.A. on the floor. It was so cool.”
The show’s heart was in South L.A., but fans came from far and wide to see it. Malena Brown, 28, flew in from Dallas to catch the game and see if SoCal might be a good fit for her TV and streaming dreams. A packed lineup of rap legends sweetened the deal.
“Since Jay-Z and Roc Nation took over the bookings, the music’s been younger and fresher,” she said. “The NFL played it pretty safe before.”
Inglewood locals are well aware of the impact the new stadium has had on the city, for better and for worse. But Jelani Hendrix, 31, wouldn’t have been anywhere else. He came to the stadium from his home right around the corner. A lifelong 49ers fan from before the Rams returned to L.A., he had to root for the home team, noting how special it felt to see the Super Bowl and this concert right in his backyard.
Hendrix was raised on West Coast hip-hop. “Some of my first memories of music was Snoop and Dre,” he said after the halftime show.
For him, a Dre signature song stood head and shoulders above the rest. To be at the biggest event in sports, in a gleaming new stadium, with all his musical heroes on one stage — it felt like a coronation for an era in American music, and also a hell of a great party.
“I loved all of it, but ‘Still D.R.E.’ was special,” he said. “I was rapping along in the crowd. I had the time of my life.”
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