While COSIGN Magazine doesn’t cover sports X’s and O’s, the College Football National Championship was part of the culture last night. While the game in Atlanta ended in epic fashion in overtime (with a result I’m disappointed in), the inaugural halftime show featured a memorable hip-hop performance and the pregame festivities, a not-so-memorable appearance.
While promoted as the first time a National Championship game had a halftime performance, Kendrick Lamar performed at Centennial Olympic Park, a 0.8 mile/17 minute walk (per Google Maps) from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the site of the game. This was kind of a disingenuous sell, and probably a downer for those with game tickets, considering they had to settle for a pair of marching bands. The folks at home, myself included, actually came out better on this one.
There was another big non-sports story that night though, as President Trump was in attendance for the first half, and was greeted with noise (not any clear cheering or booing, just noise, but expect that to be spun in both directions). The President appeared to, in an oh-so-Trump-like move, not know the words to the national anthem, the same song that the “sons of bitches” he railed against kneeled through all season. And if you watch the video, you’ll be hard pressed to figure out what song’s lyrics he’s reciting. Film also surfaced of Alabama running back Bo Scarborough giving an unapologetic “Fuck Trump” shout, which coincided with a pirate light projection of the same sentiment on one of the outside walls of the stadium.
With that being said, part of me was hoping for a surprise Nipsey Hussle and YG performance during Kendrick’s set, and somehow it taking place inside the stadium. Their most notorious collabo would have undoubtedly overshadowed anything else that would have happened that night, and considering that Monday night was also when Allstate’s Mayhem went back to his destructive ways, what better way to cause absolute chaos? But it was not to be.
Kendrick took the outdoor stage on a damp, cold Atlanta night, dressed significantly warmer than his native Compton would require. The four song set featured “DAMN.” favorites “DNA,” “Element” and “Humble,” while a bunch of cold, excited fans jumped up and down and sang along (these folks actually knew the words though). He closed out with his verse from the SZA duet from the “Black Panther” soundtrack, “All The Stars,” which served as a nice lead in to the premiere of the new “Black Panther” trailer, the other part of the (at home) halftime festivities. I don’t know much about super hero/comic book movies, but it looked more interesting than anything else of the same genre, at least in recent memory.
So while ‘Bama won, and Kendrick didn’t perform for Trump and have an opportunity to offend him, it was a big night across the board as several parts of American culture converged in Atlanta. It was also a step toward seeing more hip hop acts on a national stage, perhaps the next is the Super Bowl. I’m still crossing my fingers to see an Uncle Luke set during halftime of the NFL’s biggest game, but I won’t get my hopes up.
Cover Photo: Paras Griffin, Getty Images