In what appeared to many fans as a protest statement, the rapper Eminem took a knee for about 50 seconds at the end of his solo set at the Super Bowl halftime show.
The kneeling took place after the rapper performed his 2002 hit “Lose Yourself.” The kneeling gesture became a subject of controversy when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick used it as an act of protest against police brutality and racial discrimination.
Since then, athletes from all levels of sports have knelt during the national anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick and his message.
Eminem has a history of supporting Kaepernick’s efforts. In 2017, during the BET Hip Hop Awards, he performed an explosive 4.5-minute freestyle rap, calling out former President Donald Trump and embracing Kaepernick and his message on racism and police brutality.
The Detroit rapper raised his fist and rapped: “F— that, this is for Colin, ball up a fist and keep that s— balled like Donald the b—-.”
Eminem also included Kaepernick in the lyrics of his 2017 song “Untouchable,” where he rapped: “Somebody has to be the sacrificial lamb … So they call it a Kaepernick tantrum …
If you don’t stand for the national anthem … We raise it, you better praise it.”
Eminem’s kneeling came during a star-studded lineup from the hip-hop, R&B and rap firmament, who played their old-school hits during the halftime show at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
It was a throwback to the early aughts in West Coast rap.
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg reunited to open with their 2000 hit “The Next Episode,” to kick off the show, followed by “California Love.” They stood atop an all-white set made up of a string of lofty buildings.
In a surprise appearance, New York rapper 50 Cent popped down on stage — after hanging from the ceiling — to perform his 2003 song “In da Club,” taking the show’s energy to the East Coast.
Mary J. Blige took the spotlight next. Blige, who hails from the Bronx borough of New York City, sang “Family Affair” and “No More Drama.”
Compton native Kendrick Lamar rapped “m.A.A.d City” and “Alright,” throwing it back to a more contemporary South Los Angeles as he danced across a map presumably of his hometown, with streets splayed across the stage.
Detroit-born Eminem then cut in with his 2002 single “Lose Yourself.” Big-screen watchers may have been able to spot rapper Anderson .Paak on drums.
Dr. Dre closed the show, starting with the signature piano notes of “Still Dre,” as the rest of the lineup joined him and Snoop center stage.
Sunday’s performance marked the first time hip-hop artists were the main performers for the halftime show. Along with Eminem, rappers Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar and R&B singer Mary J. Blige also performed.
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 at Sunday’s Super Bowl.