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Anderson .Paak performed on drums with Eminem at Super Bowl half-time show, but his kit wasn't mic'd-up

The Super Bowl half-time show has become almost as legendary as the game itself, with massive artists pulling out all of the stops to deliver during the break. Past performances have included Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and Prince, so it’s always exciting to see who will perform. 

For 2022, the Super Bowl saw the Cincinnati Bengals take on the L.A. Rams in Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium. As such fans were treated to a performance from an all-star hip-hop line-up featuring locals Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar as well as Mary J Blige, 50 Cent and Eminem - the latter joined by Oxnard, California native, Anderson .Paak on drums for a run-through of his 2002 hit, Lose Yourself. 

PRS Guitars even produced a one-off version of its John Mayer Silver Sky model for the occasion. You can watch the performance above.

However, while .Paak - whose solo work has been released via Dr Dre’s Aftermath label - set the internet ablaze with his appearance, many people are outraged at the lack of microphones on his kit, suggesting that the performance was ‘mimed’.

Now, as anticipated as the Super Bowl half-time show is, it also receives some cynicism for frequent use of pre-recorded tracks rather than full live performances. So are the performances mimed? 

The reality is usually somewhere between live and synced. For example, the Red Hot Chili Peppers came under fire for openly admitting that they did just that in 2014, with only Anthony Kiedis’ vocal mic running through the PA for the Chili's part of the performance.

This is done for a number of reasons. First, the show itself is a spectacle, but it is still happening during a 15-20-minute break in an NFL match. 2022’s show featured the artists performing inside, outside and on top of (and at times a mix of all three) a set of mock-up, Compton-inspired buildings and landmarks (including the Martin Luther King Jr memorial and courthouse).

Factor-in dozens of choreographed dancers, multiple entrances via elevated platforms, and in Eminem’s case, an ‘exploding’ building, and it’s clearly a huge technical challenge. Then there’s the acoustics of the stadium to consider - a huge oval mega-dome that is set up for sport rather than music during the Super Bowl. 

Then consider that it’s all beamed live to millions of viewers - removing elements of live sound is surely a way of making a 13-and-a-half-minute performance less of a headache.

All that said, while the sound of Anderson .Paak’s on-stage drumming might not be coming from the un-mic’d kit he’s playing, we already know that .Paak is an impressive drummer who's more than capable of playing the parts we can hear. 

His performance is worth a watch for the enormity of the show itself. Plus he nails playing-along to the busy fills, even going as far as using a second snare drum for the fatter snare sound of the verses. So, while he might be 'miming' we'd say it's safer to say that he's playing along to a previously recorded performance (presumably his own) for the sake of technical ease.

Elsewhere, Anderson .Paak and Silk Sonic collaborator Bruno Mars walked away with the Best International Group award from last week’s BRIT Awards, which also saw Ed Sheeran and Bring Me The Horizon perform a surprise version of Sheeran’s Bad Habits, as well as rapper Dave busting out a guitar solo on a flamethrower-equipped Les Paul.

Stuart Williams
Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.