The NFL Super Bowl halftime show musical performers have been announced and it’s looking like a must-see event is in the making featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige. But with the NFL’s complicated history towards protests against police brutality, the lineup has fans wondering if shots or reconciliation will […]
As the Super Bowl returns to Los Angeles in 2022, some of the city’s brightest stars (and few out-of-town friends) will join forces for a hometown blowout. Dr. Dre has been announced as the performer for the Super Bowl LVI Pepsi Halftime Show — and he’s bringing a squad of his best-known buddies along, including Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and Snoop Dogg. So far, there’s no word on 50 Cent, but you can probably bet that where Dre and Em are, 50 is likely to come strolling out to the propulsive beat of “In Da Club.”
Securing Dr. Dre as halftime performer is a coup for the NFL, which has caught flak in the past over its musical choices. There were even some grumbles about the 2021 selection of The Weeknd despite his near-universal popularity and the incredible show he eventually put on. Two years before, the NFL was criticized for not including iconic Atlanta performers rather than Maroon 5, so it’s nice that the NFL is acknowledging that Dr. Dre basically is LA. It’s also incredible that he’s doing the show just a year after suffering a brain aneurysm.
Pepsi apparently knew as much, as Todd Kaplan, VP of Marketing, said in the press release. “Artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were at the forefront of the West Coast hip hop revolution, so to be able to bring them back to LA, where it all began alongside Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will prove to be an epic, unforgettable celebration of the impact hip-hop has today,” he said. “The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show has become a landmark cultural moment, bringing about some of the most iconic performances over the years – from JLo and Shakira to Lady Gaga to The Weeknd – and we are thrilled to bring together such an incredible array of talented, record-breaking musicians to put on a performance for the ages.”
Super Bowl LVI will take place on February 13, 2022 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
Rappers often seem like they are in competition, probably because of the nature of their art form. They have to be brash, cocky, outspoken, and a lot of times, very self-focused, to the point it feels like they are all clamoring for a single spot at “the top” of the rap game. In reality, though, there is no real top or “number-one spot”; they can all collect the same trophies over time and many of them enjoy and respect each others’ crafts. Just watch Drake express his appreciation for J. Cole while refuting the North Carolinian’s self-deprecating third-place claim from “Heaven’s EP.”
In a similar way, Tyler The Creator — who has a legitimate claim on the rap album of the year thanks to Call Me If You Get Lost — praises Kendrick Lamar in his XXL cover story. He especially points to Kendrick’s verse on Baby Keem’s “Family Ties,” saying, “You know why it ruined me? Because it’s someone at that level still gunning. He’s trying new voices. He’s trying new shit. He’s still learning. You can tell he was off his phone for a few months.”
Watch Tyler The Creator’s photoshoot interview with XXL above and read the full cover story here.
The Weeknd has made it clear that a new era is on the horizon, but so far all he’s done is tease the next installment of music with very specific clues. Abel initially began letting fans know that something new was on the way at the Billboard Music Awards when he cryptically said “the dawn is coming” during an acceptance speech. Then again, what else could come after After Hours but the dawn itself?
On Instagram today the R&B star seemed to reference his next phase again, with a comic book style image that shows Abel sleepily rubbing his eyes in bed while a butler of sorts opens the curtains saying “The dawn is here master Tesfaye.” The flip side of that fairly straightforward post is a clip from American Psycho where Christian Bale is walking through his office. In Tthe original, “Walking On Sunshine” is the music playing the background but for his post today Abel swapped it for something else, namely a clip from “Range Brothers” by Baby Keem featuring Kendrick Lamar.
Perhaps this means K. Dot will be prominently featured in the new music Abel is prepping. That’s a match up that would definitely be comic book worthy. Either way, keep your ears out for new music from The Weeknd, it’s coming soon.
Baby Keem is weird, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Many of today’s rappers are, and this often triggering adjective for some is not meant to be disrespectful to the 20-year-old Vegas rapper or any of his contemporaries. Keem is part of a generation of hip-hop that prides itself on going against the grain. “Rules” were broken, torn up, and disregarded, and rightfully so. Abiding by them for too long hinders the chance for evolution and change as a whole to occur. Kid Cudi, who Keem has cited as an inspiration on multiple occasions, Young Thug, Travis Scott, Playboi Carti, and many more, are clear-cut examples. With that being said, while the openness to all that is “weird” is clear nowadays, there are also limits to how funky, unique, and unorthodox things can get.
That’s something that Baby Keem’s major-label debut album The Melodic Blue understands. Comprised of 16 songs with help from stars like Kendrick Lamar, Don Toliver, and Travis Scott, the Vegas rapper dulls the loud colors and sonics just enough to deliver his version of a mellow atmosphere without sounding monotone or robotic. It’s a sharp contrast compared to his 2019 breakout project, Die For My B*tch — an erratic and chaotic release inspired by a failed relationship. That body of work promotes screaming and mosh-pitting your anger out as opposed to healthier and less-fun habits like meditation or therapy.
The Melodic Blue is Baby Keem’s attempt to balance his individuality with a reduced dose of his trademarked chaotic energy, something he tries to harness on the project. “Trademark USA” is a sucker punch to start the album that would also invite Gen-Zers all over the world to the mosh pit at the risk of their once-clean sneakers. Kendrick Lamar contributes to the raucousness of “Family Ties” and “Vent.” The former is by far the rowdiest track on the album thanks to Lamar’s proclamation of “smoking on your top five” rappers, while the latter invites aggression from all corners with the knowledge that Keem and Lamar can handle it all. The remaining majority of The Melodic Blue is occupied by records that show a more tender and reserved side of Keem.
An early example arrives on “Issues,” a spacious track that lays life’s most harrowing conflicts down like a deck of cards. Airy production uplifted by climatic drums adds to the whirlwind of unsolved issues in Keem’s life. It’s a song that the rapper says “means a lot to him” and with lyrics like, “I knew since we first got evicted out our roof / My new since rehab, I was six, tryna see you,” the weight of the track becomes clear. “Scars” is similar in the sense that Keem dips into the same pain-driven lyrics with conquering production. Even trap-leaning tracks like “First Order Of Business” and skeletal efforts like “Scapegoats” are superior for the things Keem says rather than for their sounds. It’s clear that Keem had a lot to get off his chest on The Melodic Blue, and in addition to crafting the appropriate lyrics to get that done, the rapper also placed himself in a sonic landscape that would accentuate the impact of his words. The best songs on the project, however, come when the rapper doesn’t sacrifice too much production to accomplish his goals for the album.
“Gorgeous” is a personal favorite from The Melodic Blue as it showcases the rapper’s unwavering love for his pattern with the help of heavy synths, ratting piano keys, and drawn out bass kicks. “Lost Souls” supplies the same airy production of “Issues” and “Scars,” but the addition of drums and a steady hi-hat bring it closer to a more familiar home for Keem. Even the banger that is “Durag Activity” with Travis Scott is laced with a verse from an extremely timid and near-mumbling Baby Keem. Along with additional examples like “Booman,” it becomes more and more obvious that residing as close to the middle on the spectrum of calm to chaotic was Keem’s goal for this project.
Personally, the toughest aspect of The Melodic Blue is letting go of prior expectations for the project to properly accept and digest the work Baby Keem offered to the world. Preference lies with the chaotic energy of Die For My B*tch, but truthfully speaking, that project is at the very most a strong collection of songs. The Melodic Blue aims to craft a cohesive album, and for what it’s worth, Keem succeeds at that. The rapper delivers just enough to accomplish that, but there are moments where a bit more could’ve been done to make this achievement undeniable. Whether it be extending “Scapegoats” into a full song or slashing the excessive and unnecessary second half of “Range Brothers,” The Melodic Blueundoubtedly has its rough edges. However, the album’s rawness elsewhere is also what makes it enjoyable, and in total, Baby Keem gets it done with his major-label debut album.
The Melodic Blue is out now via PgLang/Columbia. Get it here.