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Maroon 5 hasn’t even officially landed the Super Bowl halftime show gig, and they are already facing backlash.
The decision for Adam Levine and gang to headline the February show in Atlanta is being called a “safe choice” and is being compared to Justin Timberlake scoring the gig last year, a performance that was underwhelming. But there are other reasons people hoped it would be someone else onstage. A major one is that Atlanta is known for its hip-hop scene, and some — leading with rapper Waka Flocka Flame — would have liked to see a black artist, or artists, headline.
“I think for the Super Bowl you should have someone from Atlanta representing Atlanta,” the rapper told TMZ. “Just because the Super Bowl’s here we can give them that spice. I think they should have someone like Migos, Future, somebody, I could come play ‘Hard in da Paint’, somebody. … They need somebody from Atlanta in it, it’s only right.” He added, “It’s not fair, but it’s the NFL we’re talking about.”
Waka, who was careful not to dis Maroon 5, calling them “legend,” went on to point out that black men have made a fortune for the NFL — and that that should be a consideration. “They should have been like: ‘You know something, the majority of our players are from this kind of culture, the majority of our players made us this amount of money,’” he said. “You come into the biggest ‘black state’ in America, why wouldn’t you let a black artist perform and show the world that we’re progressing.”
While Billboard reports that Maroon 5 could have surprise guests that are rappers — like Cardi B, who appeared on the band’s “Girls Like You” track, or Travis Scott — the general vibe was that Maroon 5 would not be loved in the gig.
Not picked to headline an Atlanta Super Bowl:
Run the Jewels
Ying Yang Twins
Rich Homie Quan
Dem Franchise Boyz
Waka Flocka Flame
Picked to headline an Atlanta Super Bowl:
— Ñic Gulas (@Nic_Gulas) September 19, 2018
I actually like Maroon 5 but we couldn’t get any hip-hop artists for a Super Bowl in Atlanta? pic.twitter.com/8zSCLn6IiC
— Antwan V. Staley (@antwanstaley) September 19, 2018
So many hometown stars to choose from – why are we hearing halftime choice is #Maroon5 for @Superbowl in ATL?
SO many: Usher, Sugerland, Ciara, Janelle Monae, Ludacris, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Outkast, Migos, T.I….and more. #11Alive
— Cheryl Preheim (@CherylPreheim) September 19, 2018
WTF. Outcast, Usher, Ludicrous, T.I, Migos, Yeezy, Lil Jon are ATL originals and we get Maroon 5?🤷🏾♂️ https://t.co/7Y3XLgNh0u
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) September 19, 2018
“Maroon 5 is performing at the SuperBowl.”
— PrestonMitchum (@PrestonMitchum) September 20, 2018
I love Maroon 5. I really do but the Super Bowl is in ATL this year! We want rap music lol 😂 OutKast, T.I., Gucci, Cardi B… hopefully they bring a rapper to perform with them. https://t.co/3vu5fvbz0t
— Kristen Holloway (@KHolloway_WREG3) September 19, 2018
Outkast doing the Super Bowl halftime show in Atlanta is maybe the easiest decision in the history of humankind but instead we get… Maroon 5.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) September 19, 2018
Radio host Mark Zinno wondered whether given the Colin Kaepernick controversy and players taking a knee, the league purposely avoided a popular, black Atlanta artist or group for fear they would “somehow loop ‘kneeling’ or Kaepernick into the performance.”
One valid question in selection of Maroon5 for SB halftime:
Did #NFL avoid a popular, black Atlanta artist/group b/c they were afraid that they would somehow loop "kneeling" or Kaepernick into the performance?
It's a fair discussion & frankly, I get why NFL would avoid this.
— Mark Zinno (@MarkZinno) September 19, 2018
Though a good point was raised — there isn’t always a correlation between the city and performer.
although maroon 5 been wack for a long time… yall know the city where the superbowl is hosted don't have nothing to do with who gets invited to perform right?
— king crissle (@crissles) September 19, 2018
Meanwhile, you can always count on Ellen DeGeneres to put a positive spin on things.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 19, 2018
And we just enjoyed Billy Eichner’s take.
Look I don’t care, I just want Maroon 5 to vote!
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) September 19, 2018
The NFL has yet to give the official word that Maroon 5 is the performer. However, this is fairly typical. The performer gets leaked to create buzz, and then a big, splashy announcement follows. Though this probably wasn’t the buzz they were hoping for.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: