It wasn't a clash of the hip-hop titans, but a formidable alliance storming the Super Bowl 56 halftime stage.
From Mary J. Blige's confirmation as one of music's undisputed queens ("Family Affair") to Eminem's loquacious rumblings ("Lose Yourself"), rap arrived at Inglewood's SoFi Stadium in potent fashion Sunday night.
The rest of this all-star cast – California natives Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and the emperor among them, Dr. Dre – rolled through liquid rhymes ("California Love," "Still D.R.E," complete with controversial "still not lovin' the police" lyric) with cool precision.
Snoop, 50, who last week was sued by a former backup dancer alleging sexual assault, kicked it off in typical languid style with a black-clad Dr. Dre for "The Next Episode." The duo stood atop a set of white rooms, an array of kinetic dancers sprawled below on the field and a row of cars.
Former N.W.A. member Dre, who turns 57 on Feb. 18, returned later to play a white piano, the quiet maestro driving this production.
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This already-loaded lineup didn't need any guests, so the surprise inclusion of 50 Cent to drop "In Da Club" was cool, but unnecessary, and diminished the momentum.
While it was a bit disconcerting seeing the halftime show performed in daylight, this team of pros still brought the drama – notably Blige, 51, on her own "No More Drama," which included a feral scream as she strode in her thigh-high white boots and ended the song flat on her back.
Lamar, who received the least amount of time in the 13-minute presentation, spat "Alright" alongside a cadre of dancers wearing Dre sashes, while Eminem, 49, scurried back and forth during "Lose Yourself," hoodie pulled up, alongside a live band – including Anderson .Paak on drums – as Blige and 50 Cent nodded to the music from a nearby couch.
Eminem also kneeled at the end of his performance in symbolic solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
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The quick performance by Lamar, 34, and the single full song performed by Eminem indicated the problem with trying to stuff too much into extremely limited time (no wonder the rumored Tupac hologram appearance never materialized).
But while these rhyme-hurlers aren’t the first major hip-hop names involved in a Super Bowl halftime show, they are undeniably the most potent cluster to share the marquee in one setting.
Throughout halftime history, a parade of rap stars including Queen Latifah, Nelly, Big Boi, Missy Elliott, Travis Scott and Nicki Minaj have popped up onstage with assorted pop and rock performers. But this is the first time that rap is the centerpiece of the halftime spectacle, which typically reaches – or exceeds – 100 million viewers.
As rap continues its chart dominance, this surely won't be the last time the genre is granted the halftime spotlight. Between young superstars such as Lil Nas X and Kodak Black and still-vital veterans Ye (imagine the drama!) and Jay-Z, whose Roc Nation helps produce the halftime shows, the bench is deep.
Sunday's headliners boast a collective 44 Grammys (15 for Eminem, 13 for Lamar, nine for Blige and seven for Dr. Dre; Snoop Dogg has been nominated more than a dozen times, but has never won).
Their legacy is immense and their stage was well deserved.
Contributing: Bryan Alexander
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Super Bowl halftime show: Dr. Dre, Eminem's hip-hop all-stars triumph