Queen Latifah First Rapper Perform Super Bowl Halftime Show
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Queen Latifah was the First Rapper to Perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show

The Pepsi Super Bowl LVI, scheduled for February 13, 2022, is going to have one of the most highly anticipated Halftime Shows of all time. With a legendary line-up of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, it’s going to be hard to top this one for years to come.

Throughout the decades, there have been some big moments for hip hop performs on the Super Bowl stage. In 2001, Nelly joined Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, and Mary J. Blige to perform a rendition of the band’s 1975 single “Walk This Way.” 2004 saw the St. Lunatics rapper hit the stage again, this time with Puffy, Janet Jackson, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake and Kid Rock.

Then there was the Black Eyed Peas dominating the 2011 Halftime Show with their smash hits “I Gotta Feeling” and “Boom Boom Pow,” Nicki Minaj with Madonna in 2012, Missy Elliott stealing the show (as always) from Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz in 2015, and Travis Scott and Big Boi holding it down for the South in 2019.

But the honour of being the first rapper to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show goes to Queen Latifah. At the 1998 Super Bowl XXXII, between the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos, the “U.N.I.T.Y.” rapper joined Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and The Temptations to perform a tribute to Motown’s 40th anniversary.

For her part, Latifah performed her 1998 single “Paper”, one of her first songs that didn’t feature any rapping, and heavily samples Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which Marvin Gaye later released his own version to in 1968.

“It is like no other feeling in the world,” Latifah later recalled in an interview with Stephen Colbert. “I think most hip-hop artists would liken it to playing Madison Square Garden [in New York]. But other than that, there’s nothing that can compare to it.”

“You feel this sort of reverence in a way because you not only want to rock this song, or whatever performance you’re gonna do, but you feel like you’re an American and you feel like you’re doing it in front of the world.”

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