Usher sang, skated and A-Town stomped his way through his Super Bowl LVIII halftime performance, paying homage to Black culture while performing fan favorites from his over 30-year-long music catalog.
It’s still Black History Month, and Usher Raymond made sure audiences knew through the plethora of references he made in his show. He spotlighted specific Black subcultures that originated in Atlanta, Georgia, which is considered the Black mecca of the United States.
And it comes as no surprise, as Usher noted that Black culture was at the top of his mind when he was crafting the 13-minute show.
“I think about what our country has kind of represented for Black artists having to at some point go through kitchens to even to be able to perform for an audience, but they had to leave through that same door, fear for their lives as they went to the next state to do the same thing,” Raymond said in a previous interview. “So I’m coming through the front door with this one.”
The Grammy-winner “turned the world into the A” right in Las Vegas where he’s been putting on his popular residency. Aside from his group of featured artists Alicia Keys, Lil Jon, H.E.R., Jermaine Durpi and Ludacris, Raymond put Black southern culture on full display.
Here’s how he did it his way.
There were Black performers throughout the show, including The Good Times Brass band, an all-Black Atlanta-based group of musicians, who Raymond has worked with before.
Marching Bands from HBCUs
There’s nothing like the band culture at a historically Black college or university, and Atlanta is home to four of the most prominent Black institutions: Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Morehouse School of Medicine. This’s the reason why Raymond chose Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South to perform.
Spotlights the Divine Nine’s Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
It wouldn’t be #BlackHistoryMonth without some #BlackExcellence at the Super Bowl! Usher shared the stage with so many Black musical icons, and featured performances by the Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South and the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi!
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) February 12, 2024
One of the oldest Black American subcultures is the historically Black Greek-letter community known as the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The group of nine sororities and fraternities, which have been nicknamed the “Divine Nine,” consists of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Iota Phi Theta.
Two Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. members showed off their iconic moves, like the Kappa Shimmy, alongside the Grammy-winner on stage.
Atlanta’s Roller Skating Culture
There’s no bigger city known for the roller skating culture and community than Atlanta, so of course Raymond was going to implement some skate-infused choreography into his set, paying homage to Atlanta’s well-known rinks Cascade Family Skating, Skate Towne and others.
Atlanta’s Strip Club Culture
And just like skating, what would Atlanta be without its strip club culture? From Magic City and the Cheetah Lounge to Onyx and more, there was no doubt Raymond would included it in his performance. Plus, did you hear North Carolina rapper Petey Pablo’s “Freak-A-Leek” playing and then merging back into the beat of Raymond’s “Yeah!”? Chef’s kiss.
Atlanta’s A-Town Stomp
Who would Usher be as a dancer, and especially as an Atlanta native, if he didn’t incorporate the “A-Town Stomp” into his performance? The dance move originated in Atlanta and was primarily used during the early 2000s.
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