“I turned the world to the A,” Usher yelled into the mic during the closing moments of his spectacular Super Bowl Halftime Show.
In the days leading up his performance, the Atlanta native give hints on how his hometown would play a major role in the aesthetics of the show.
“That was the influence that Atlanta has had on me,” Usher shared during a press conference days before the big game. “So much so that I collected everything that I experienced and I’ve benefited from in Atlanta. And I brought that culture to Las Vegas. And now to the rest of the world with the Super Bowl Halftime Show.”
Usher didn’t disappoint as he shed a light on Atlanta and its embrace of Black culture. Here’s a breakdown of how Atlanta played a role during Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Roller Skating In The A
Usher and his team of dancers brought out the roller skates during the performance of “OMG.” Rolling skating culture has remained an intricate part of what it means to come of age in Atlanta. Skating rinks such as Jellybeans in Ben Hill, Skate Town on Old National Road, Screaming Wheels on Stewart Avenue and Golden Glide on Wesley Chapel Road were locations where youth would gather on weekends to get their “first little taste of the nightlife.” Cascade continues the tradition and served as the featured skating rink in the 2006 film, “ATL.”
The Divine Nine and AUC
While performing “Love In This Club,” Usher was joined on stage by members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity who strolled while twirling their signature canes. The Divine Nine is an intricate aspect of HBCU life and Atlanta which is home to Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta University and Morris Brown. During homecoming season, you can find members of the Divine Nine strolling on the yard, similar to what was displayed at the Super Bowl.
HBCU Marching Bands
Usher recruited the Jackson State University marching band to help him perform. Although JSU is based in Jackson, Mississippi, it highlights HBCU culture which is prominent in the Atlanta area. JSU also performs at the annual Battle of the Bands (a competition of HBCU bands) which is held every year in Atlanta.
Crunk Music and Bass Music
Lil Jon joined Usher on stage for the songs, “Turn Down for What” and “Yeah.” Interestingly, Lil Jon produced Usher’s biggest hit single “Yeah” which is a fusion of R&B and Crunk. But Crunk music derives from Bass music, another sub-genre of rap that was prominent in Atlanta. Atlanta-based artists such as Kilo Ali, Raheem The Dream, MC Shy D, Hitman Sammy Sam, DJ Smurf, and DJ Kizzy Rock are considered Bass music legends. While working as a music executive for Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label, Lil Jon helped to highlight Bass music with the “So So Def Bass All-Stars” compilation album in 1996.
A-Town Stomp and the Atlanta Dance Movement
During the performance of “Yeah,” Lil Jon yelled, “Do the A-Town Stomp.” The dance was popular in Atlanta during the early 2000s. Dance is also a major aspect of Atlanta culture which spawned dances such as the Yeek, Bankhead Bounce, Poole Palace and Rag Top.
Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime show featured go-go dancers and poles that paid homage to Atlanta’s strip clubs. Night spots such as Magic City and Blue Flame Lounge played a role in the city’s music scene. When there wasn’t a hip-hop radio station in Atlanta during the early 1990s, DJs at strip clubs would often release new music from artists on the rise. Outside of the featured dancers, the strip clubs in Atlanta served as places where artists could test new music and eventually gain traction. With enough momentum, artists could gain the attention of an A&R or record label executive.
Overall, Usher’s performance will be remembered as one of the most exciting moments in Super Bowl history. Within 13 minutes, he gave the world Atlanta’s culture while solidifying himself as an all-time great.