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NEAR TRUTHS:
GOING LONG

THE SECOND QUARTER CAN’T END SOON ENOUGH: The newly announced lineup for halftime for Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood has special resonance, especially for Angelenos. The beats of classic recordings by Dr. Dre (who is said to have curated the event) and Snoop Dogg have been booming through the streets, highways and stadium parking lots of Southern California for decades now, and despite their global impact they are intimately associated with the vibe and geography of the city. L.A.’s Kendrick Lamar, Detroiter Eminem and New Yorker Mary J. Blige, too, are woven deeply into the mass-cultural fabric.

Jay-Z’s influence on the direction of the NFL has never been more apparent or impressive. Roc Nation CEO Des Perez, meanwhile, has once again proved her mettle as Jay-Z’s quarterback, hammering out the game plan for a halftime offering that was said to be as complicated and sensitive as a hot bag full of cats. A battalion of pocket-square barristers ringed that negotiating table, repping not only a summit of superstar acts but also the NFL, NBC and Pepsi. Only after a bull rush by Aaron Donald was the deal finally settled on 9/30.

The involvement of Jimmy Iovine, football fans agree, is no surprise. It was the Interscope architect who linked up, fatefully, with Dre and helped direct the Aftermath juggernaut that unleashed Dre’s era-defining The Chronic, Snoop’s biggest records and the entire catalogs of Em and K-Dot. He’s said to have lent a hand in the navigation of this insanely complex deal from his aircraft-carrier-sized yacht somewhere off the Amalfi Coast.

PRESTO CHANGE-O: In the wake of the selection of Tunji Balogun as Def Jam’s new Chairman, the elevation of the invaluable Mark Pitts to President at RCA and the crowning of Motown boss Ethiopia Habtemariam as CEO, the tapping of Steve-O Carless as Warner’s Head of A&R is just the latest instance of a long-overdue transformation within the industry’s executive tier, whereby Black creative execs, most of them young, are at last empowered at high levels, and the C-suites begin to bear some demographic resemblance to the artists largely driving the business. Are more such moves in the offing, as the majors become more attuned to the notion of “culture” at the leadership level?

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