INGLEWOOD, Calif. — 50 Cent made a surprise upside-down entrance at the Super Bowl halftime show, and Eminem dramatically took a knee.
The show brought about as much hip-hop as a stadium can hold, with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar spitting a fiery medley of their hits.
As his rendition of “Lose Yourself” ended, Eminem took a knee and held his head in his hand in apparent tribute to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality during the 2016 season. Other players followed suit, and the move created widespread cultural controversy. Kaepernick would be out of the league soon after.
The NFL denied reports that it was attempting to stop Eminem from making the gesture.
“We watched all elements of the show during multiple rehearsals this week and were aware that Eminem was going to do that,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
It was a rare Super Bowl halftime show performed in the daylight, but it still had a feeling of a nightclub at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, with a set made up to look like the houses of nearby Compton and South LA.
Dre and Snoop opened the show with “Next Episode” and “California Love.”
50 Cent, not among the announced performers, started his “In Da Club” while hanging upside inside one of the rooms.
Blige was decked out in silver sparkles and surrounded by backup dancers as she sang a medley of her hits.
The set was surrounded by what looked like a lit-up cityscape from above, with classic convertibles and replicas of the Tam's Burgers stand and the sculpture outside the Compton Courthouse.
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The crowd had lanyards with LED lights that flashed in coordination with the show’s beats, turning the whole stadium into a light show.
An explosion of fireworks lit up the sky as the sun set outside and the show ended, with Snoop and Dre performing “Still DRE.”