Rap takes over Super Bowl halftime, balancing celebration and protest



Leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, much ado was made over the fact that this would be the first year that hip-hop occupied the center of the concert. It was marketing copy that overlooked the glaring lateness of the achievement — that rap was finally getting the spotlight in perhaps the 20-somethingth year of hip-hop occupying the center of American pop music. Does progress this delayed still count as a breakthrough?

After several years of grappling with an assortment of racial controversies, the NFL likely wanted credit for showcasing Black music — especially hip-hop, the lingua franca of American pop culture — this prominently. What would some of rap music’s generational superstars — Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar — titans with little fear for their reputations, do with this most visible of platforms?

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