The 10 Ways Dr. Dre Brought Compton To The Super Bowl
On Sunday night (February 13), Dr. Dre celebrated his career with an epic Super Bowl halftime show. The moment included appearances alongside Dre’s star pupils and collaborators: Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige. 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak each made surprise appearances in a stage show filled with iconography surrounding Dre’s career and the city of Compton.
On episode #76 of the What’s The Headline podcast (embedded in audio and video below), the Ambrosia For Heads team examines some of the symbolism of Dr. Dre’s concert. The stage also included three Chevy Impala lowriders: a 1962, a 1963, and a similar 1964 model that Dre famously used in his “Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang” and “Still D.R.E.” music videos. In framed portraits behind Snoop Dogg was a revolving clip from his 1993 “What’s My Name” music video (directed by Fab 5 Freddy), his Doggystyle artwork, and a photo of Snoop with his late mother, Beverly. 50 Cent’s pop-up also recreated his upside-down delivery in 2003’s “In da Club” video. At the piano, Dre played the melody from Tupac Shakur’s “I Ain’t Mad At’Cha.” The All Eyez On Me single was credited to Daz Dillinger on production but likely signaled a message from Dre to Pac. While “California Love” was part of the concert, Dre and Pac had an early 1996 falling out that remained until Shakur died later that year.
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Upon closer inspection, there were many other cues, especially ones celebrating Hub City. With a narrated introduction by MC Lyte, the Pepsi halftime show began with the words “Straight off the streets of Compton,” a nod to N.W.A. and Eazy-E. The moment was followed by a sequence featuring street fireworks that explode into Dre’s hand, with its palm holding a map of Compton. That hand drops to Dre’s mixing board and elaborate stage set. Then, surrounding Dr. Dre’s stage at SoFi Stadium was a street grid of Compton. It covered the football field to show Andre Young’s concrete roots. Dre and Snoop performed atop white houses modeled after those in Compton (and Long Beach), akin to visuals of their iconic videos. A series of signs surrounding the stage was one for South Avalon Avenue’s Eve After Dark—the club where Dre (and DJ Yella) DJ’d during their formative years. The venue was instrumental in the development of World Class Wreckin’ Crew as well as N.W.A. (and Ice Cube’s C.I.A.) later on. Another sign was for Tam’s Burgers, the fast-food chain in Compton. The Tam’s location on West Rosecrans Avenue was where Suge Knight fatally struck music executive Terry Carter in 2015, after being denied access to the set of Dre’s Straight Outta Compton film. That incident has landed Knight, Dre’s former business partner, in prison. As “Tha Next Episode” seamlessly transitioned to “California Love” (with a splash of “G Thang” in the mix), Dre rapped in front of a window with Dale’s Donuts, at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and East Alondra Boulevard, in the background.
Kendrick delivered his set behind the rooms where 50 and Snoop hung with dancers and a band. That area transformed into a Compton shopping plaza of barbershops and storefronts. The stage was flanked by miniatures of Compton’s Martin Luther King, Jr. monument, located in its Civic Center Plaza and the Compton Courthouse that K-Dot rapped about on Section.80. As the set wrapped with “Still D.R.E.,” dancers in khaki-suits waved Compton flags in unison.
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Just like his songs touted since the 1980s and his recent charitable actions uphold, Dr. Dre shows that he represents the city of Compton.
The time codes for episode #76 of the What’s The Headline podcast:
2:14 Where does the Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige halftime show rank among halftime shows?
4:25 A history of Hip-Hop performances at the Super Bowl
11:00 Reviewing the Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige halftime performance song by song
19:40 50 Cent makes a surprise appearance
23:00 Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg did not perform any songs from The Chronic or Doggystyle
27:12 Mary J. Blige gave a standout performance
28:45 Kendrick Lamar’s performance was filled with symbolism
35:00 Eminem closes his performance by taking a knee for justice
42:50 Dr. Dre paid tribute to Tupac
44:40 There was Crip-walking on the Super Bowl halftime stage
47:40 Was this the best Super Bowl halftime performance of all-time?
49:34 Snoop Dogg is the new owner of Death Row Records
54:42 Snoop released a new album called Bacc On Death Row
59:53 Mary J. Blige released her Good Morning Gorgeous album
1:01:35 Kanye West has gone on a social media frenzy
1:06:55 Questlove is nominated for an Oscar
1:07:43 Lupe Fiasco is releasing some of the leaked songs from Food & Liquor
1:09:30 New music of the week by Nana, Fatlip, GBA, Blu, Ras Kass, and Hemlock Ernst
AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline. The podcast also has interviews with Joell Ortiz, AZ, Blu & Mickey Factz, Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available to view or for listening wherever you stream your pods.
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#BonusBeat: New music from Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, and Anderson .Paak is on the official AFH playlist: