Last night as millions of viewers tuned in to watch the Los Angeles Rams play the Cincinnati Bengals (and ultimately win 23-20) in the Rams’ first Super Bowl at their new home field, one performance stole the evening. No, not the confusing bevy of cryptocurrency ads; it was the star-studded halftime show that placed a scale model of Compton landmarks front and center in SoFi Stadium.
As Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and an upside-down 50 Cent laid out a California-heavy set for older millennials and Gen-Xers, they danced through a cavalcade of Compton buildings all set atop a map of the southern L.A. County city. Other than the Inglewood location of SoFi Stadium (Inglewood is roughly 9 miles to the northwest of Compton), the connection was clear—Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar both hail from Compton, and Snoop Dogg is from Long Beach.
Bookended on one end by a scale recreation of the Harold L. Williams-designed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Compton City Hall and a slice of the monolithic Compton Courthouse on the other, the five-room maquette was full of backup dancers, singers, and celebrities. But as the Los Angeles Times points out, the stage was also full of nods to the city’s hip-hop landmarks, many now at risk as the city gentrifies (with SoFi Stadium itself now visible on the skyline).
A scaled-down facsimile of Tam’s Burgers No. 21 appeared alongside a sign for doughnuts at Dale’s as well as the canopy of the dance club Eve After Dark, and there were even easter eggs hidden inside the electronic “windows” of each set as lowriders bounced past Compton homes—obviously meant for the cameras as most seats wouldn’t be able to see inside.
With each of five structures clad in brick or shingles, architects, designers, and urbanists couldn’t resist taking cracks at Los Angeles County’s housing crisis. “the halftime show was actually an ad for ADUs,” tweeted Kevin Liao.
“I wanted to enjoy the #HalfTimeShow2022 without thinking about #housing, but then I started overanalyzing the set design: too much parking, setbacks are actually good, are these SFHs or townhomes, the smaller units could be ADUs, gentle density is good but LA needs more units…,” added housing researcher Ahmad Abu-Khalaf.
“In 15 minutes more housing built than in 5 years on the City of San Francisco,” tweeted yet another user.