By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES -Los Angeles-area natives Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre united for “California Love,” surprise guest 50 Cent hung upside down and rapper Eminem took a knee as superstars of hip-hop performed a high-energy halftime show at Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The star-packed lineup, also featuring R&B star Mary J. Blige and rapper Kendrick Lamar, made hip-hop the focus of the halftime extravaganza, a platform that draws the world’s top musical acts.
At SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles, the musicians sang a medley of hits and traversed the roofs and interiors of a row of white buildings assembled on the football field.
Eminem ended his hit “Lose Yourself” by kneeling and placing his head in his hand, a gesture that former quarterback Colin Kaepernick made during the National Anthem at NFL games as a call for racial justice.
Kaepernick has not played since the 2016 season as no NFL team hired him after he began kneeling.
Media outlet Puck reported earlier on Sunday that the NFL had told Eminem not to kneel during the performance. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the report was untrue. NFL staff watched halftime rehearsals this week and the kneeling was included at that time, he said.
Dre and Snoop Dogg opened the show with “The Next Episode” and “California Love.” Rapper 50 Cent, an unannounced guest, began rapping “In Da Club” while suspended from a ceiling upside down.
Wearing a sequined white outfit with thigh-high boots, Blige performed “Family Affair” in front of a sparkling group of backup dancers.
Before the show, Dre and Snoop Dogg said that the NFL should have embraced rap years ago and they hoped to open doors for more hip-hop artists. Rap musicians have appeared previously but alongside pop and rock acts.
“THE GREATEST HALFTIME SHOW IVE EVER SEEN!!!” Los Angeles Lakers basketball star LeBron James, who was seated in the crowd, wrote on Twitter.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine. Editing by Gerry Doyle)