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  • Writer's pictureCamie Idzinski

The True Significance of This Year's Halftime Show

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, then it would be a surprise to know that Usher and special guests Alicia Keys, Lil Jon, H.E.R., Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, and Will.i.am were all performing for the 2024 NFL Super Bowl. The performances, like many in the past, were immediately taken across social media for things like Alicia’s vocal all the way to the marching band not even playing during the show. While I could sit here and give you a mediocre recap on the performance, I won’t. I would be doing a disservice to the overall general and musical effect of the performance. The significance of the show comes to black culture and its dominance in the early 2000s; since the overall reason for the selection of artists was for the 20 year anniversary of the general start of ‘clubbing culture’. 

To get a better understanding of the significance of black dominance in the music scene, we have to start in the 1990s and 2000s. According to an article by Medium.com called Why Was 90s R&B Music So Great?, “The 90s were a pinnacle when R&B dominated culturally and creatively, unlike any era before or since… R&B thrived in a balanced black music landscape.” (Kyhana). The article then goes on to explain that in the 2000s, a sudden dip, then rise in R&B and HipHop occurred, almost like a yoyo effect. This is important to note because in the 90s, R&B and HipHop was practically made soley by people of color, mainly African americans. When R&B, HipHop, and now Pop were brought back to the music scene in the early and mid 2000s, there was a shift in style that many claim to be “Whitewashing” the original purpose and feel of the genres that were created by black artists.

In an Article by Salon.com titled Why do celebrities like Justin Timberlake exploit Blackness to get ahead?, Nardo Haile says this, “...[Britney Spears (Ex-Girlfriend)] said that Timberlake said in a blaccent, an accent that approximates African American Vernacular English (AAVE) that racists and cultural appropriators use when they mimic Black people… People dug up photos of the singer wearing cornrows multiple times. The internet also found archival footage of him performing in the early '00s, and the singer is adorned with a bandana and saggy pants while he beatboxes his name in a blaccent.” It’s no secret that trends from fashion to music have been derived by black culture, but we see the sudden rise of curated black music in the 2000s because of the whitewashed influence by white artists. White artists attempting to grow popularity using (appropriating) black culture. This soon changed the interpretation of Pop music and its vitality in the growing clubbing scene. 

For the 20 year anniversary of Usher’s album Confession, a heavily cultivated ‘club classic’, true 2000s artists of color channeled the art and interpretation of original R&B and HipHop. Which holds deeper meaning than what meets the eye. To me, based on representation alone, this performance holds just as much weight (if not more) as Destiny's Child in 2013 and the Pepsi Halftime Show in 2022 with Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and more. 

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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