EMINEM TAKES A KNEE AS PART OF EPIC SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW IN SOLIDARITY WITH COLIN KAEPERNICK AND BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
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Eminem took a knee for 50 seconds at the Super Bowl LVI’s halftime show after performing his Oscar and Grammy-winning track “Lose Yourself,” in a strong statement of solidarity with former NFL 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players who have kneeled to raise awareness about racial injustices, discrimination, police brutality, and systemic oppression.
Kaepernick first began to kneel in 2016, kicking off a movement that has included numerous high-profile NFL players as well as athletes in all levels of professional, college, and high school settings, nationally and internationally.
The Super Bowl Halftime Show took place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. It was produced by artist Jay-Z and his production company Roc Nation and was the first time in history that a Super Bowl Halftime show focused exclusively on hip hop.
Since the early days of hip-hop and rap, the medium has been celebrated as a creative expression that commonly provided a glimpse of hope in the face of oppression, and an opportunity to dance in celebration and power. Built on a foundation of songs like Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power,” and NWA’s “F* Tha Police,” rap and hip-hop speak to the masses about the many struggles that have historically plagued people of color in the United States and around the world. A common theme throughout rap and hip-hop has been a rebellion against corrupt establishments.
Eminem’s act of protest and solidarity, particularly from his place of privilege as one of the only white artists in the performance, was particularly meaningful. As he posed on one knee and held his head in his hand his longtime collaborator, Dr. Dre, played a tribute to Tupac’s “I Ain’t Mad at Cha'' on a grand piano next to him, forcing the NFL’s cameras to hold on the spectacle for the duration of the powerful statement.
Across social media, Eminem’s act of protest immediately became one of the top viral moments of the widely broadcast global event. Numerous celebrities and influencers took to their channels to issue statements of support and solidarity.
In addition to Eminem, the Halftime performance included a legendary lineup of hip-hop heavyweights including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.
Before the big show, Jay-Z stated that the performance would be “history in the making.”
Dr. Dre added that this would be “one of the biggest thrills of my career,” adding, “I’m grateful to Jay-Z, Roc Nation, the NFL, and Pepsi as well as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar for joining me in what will be an unforgettable cultural moment.”
Initial reports were that the NFL was calling for the performance to be censored in a number of ways, including Eminem’s plan to kneel during his performance. Reports also alleged that the NFL wanted Dr. Dre to remove the line “still not loving police” from his song “Still D.R.E.,” but he also did not abide by that request.
One part of the performance that was in fact censored by the NFL was Kendric Lamar’s lyrics “And we hate popo / Wanna kill us dead in the street fo’ sho” about police brutality during his song “Alright.” Those lyrics were removed during the global broadcast and were also removed from the audio that played within SoFi Stadium.
After the fact, the NFL though has claimed in statements that it was aware Eminem would be taking a knee. “We watched all elements of the show during multiple rehearsals this week and were aware that Eminem was going to do that,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement to the Associated Press. “A player or coach could have taken a knee and there would have been no repercussions, so there was no reason to tell an artist she or he could not do so,” McCarthy added. The NFL statements did not address the claim that they had wanted to censor Dr. Dre’s lyrics or about the censorship of Lamar’s lyrics.
Since the Halftime show, neither Colin Kaepernick or Eminem have publicly commented on the performance and act of solidarity.
This is not the first time Eminem has shown support for Kaepernick and the greater Black Lives Matter movement. In 2017, as part of a freestyle rap at the BET Hip Hop Awards, Eminem called on listeners to put up their fists and said “this is for Colin!”
Eminem’s 2017 song “Untouchable” includes the lyrics, “Just keep marchin’, ’til we reach Congress / But they’re gonna say you’re tryin’ to take an irrational stance / If you try to slander the flag but / Somebody has to be the sacrificial lamb / So they call it a Kaepernick tantrum / If you don’t stand for the national anthem.”
Eminem also showed support for Kaepernick in his 2020 song "Black Magic," rapping, "I ain't gon' stand for that s#it, like Kaep for the national anthem."
In 2020, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about the handling of Kaepernick's protest and issued an apology. He said at the time, "I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to."
Kaepernick continues to be an icon in the battle for social justice, but to date, he continues to be shunned by the NFL in what many argue is an organized effort to keep him from playing.
Benefit Arts would like to publicly state our solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and all of the artists and athletes who are taking part in this ever-growing movement to bring about an end to racial injustice, discrimination, police brutality, and systemic oppression. We urge our readers to consider making a donation to Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp, which works to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization, and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿
Watch the 2022 Halftime show here.