Rappers at the Super Bowl: A Brief (and Awkward) History

Rappers at the Super Bowl: A Brief (and Awkward) History

Published Fri, February 11, 2022 at 1:00 PM EST

This should've happened a long time ago. Hip-Hop is the biggest genre of music on the planet right now, so it's crazy it took all of this time for us to be recognized. We are gonna do this so big they can't deny us for the future."

- Dr. Dre on the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show

The highly-anticipated Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show marks Hip-Hop's first takeover of the Super Bowl. Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar are bringing their epic star-power to the biggest sporting event of the year; and fans are eagerly anticipating surprise guests and songs.

This is the first Hip-Hop Super Bowl Halftime Show, but it's not the first time rappers have performed at the Super Bowl. What's the distinction? Up until now, Hip-Hop has been either muted or secondary when it came time for the big show. Rappers have been parts of ensemble singalongs or performed as the special guests of pop stars. But there has never been straight-up Hip-Hop as the headliner; and there's definitely never been a show this rap-heavy.

But we felt it was only right to take a look back at the strange history of rappers at the NFL's biggest game. There have been some interesting moments. But this year starts a new chapter.

1 of 10

Queen Latifah at Super Bowl XXXII

The Queen became the first rapper to perform at the big game back in 1998. Technically. In what would become something of a pattern, Latifah took the stage, but sang her Marvin Gaye-sampling single "Papers" as part of a Motown medley.

2 of 10

Nelly at Super Bowl XXXV

This is how bizarre the Super Bowl Halftime Show got in the early '00s. The show ended with N*Sync, Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Aerosmith and Nelly all performing "Walk This Way" together. No one knows why.

3 of 10

Diddy and Nelly at Super Bowl XXXVIII

Nelly made a second Halftime Show appearance just a few years later; performing alongside Diddy (and Kid Rock and Christina Aguilera.) Of course, people tend to mostly talk about that other part of the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

4 of 10

The Black Eyed Peas at Super Bowl XLV

Scoff all you want, but there was a time when the Black Eyed Peas were considered a rap group. It wasn't THIS particular time, but oh well. After Nipplegate in 2004, this was the closest to contemporary music the Super Bowl had gotten in seven years.

5 of 10

Cee-Lo Green at Super Bowl XLVI

When Madonna took the big stage in 2012, it seemed like a return to musical elders. But at least Madge brought a host of guests, including Cee-Lo...

6 of 10

Nicki Minaj at Super Bowl XLVI

...Nicki Minaj, who performed her single with Madonna, "Give Me All Your Luvin'..."

7 of 10

M.I.A. at Super Bowl XLVI

...and the song also featured M.I.A. That's technically three rappers who joined The Material Girl on the big stage that night. Of course, M.I.A. drew the most controversy by flipping off the cameras.

8 of 10

Missy Elliott at Super Bowl XLIX

In the 2010s, it became fashionable for big pop stars to headline the Halftime Show and bring out pop-friendly rappers as guests. But Missy stole the show in 2015; storming the stage with "Get Ur Freak On," "Work It" and "Lose Control."

9 of 10

Travis Scott at Super Bowl LIII

Maroon 5 were the big headliners for the 2019 Super Bowl in the ATL, but Travis Scott got to perform his gigantic hit "Sicko Mode..."

10 of 10

Big Boi and Sleepy Brown at Super Bowl LIII

...but you had to know there was no way the mayor of Atlanta wasn't going to make an appearance. Big Boi rocked Mercedes-Benz Stadium with his D.F. partners, including Sleepy Brown.


Portrait of American pop and rhythm & blues musician Lauryn Hill, 1998. photo gallery

20 Female MC's Who Changed the Game

photo gallery

Check Out Photos From the 2023 Rock The Bells Festival

photo gallery

Rappers at the Super Bowl: A Brief (and Awkward) History

photo gallery

Kid 'n Play Hit the 'House Party' Premiere