XXL is making quite the statement with their latest cover.
This past weekend Tupac Shakur made his first public appearance since his tragic death in 1996. He could not have chosen a better place to make his triumphant return, a sold out arena there to see his former Death Row mates Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. When 2Pac suddenly appeared on stage the excitement was palpable, Pac had been known to be a restless soul releasing posthumous albums for years after his death. A live performance, however was something different altogether.
2Pac only spent a brief time on stage but it was clear that he did not miss a step. While Snoop and Dre were clearly worst for the wear since his departure, 2Pac was his old energetic self. He barreled through the first verse of fan-favorite “Hail Mary” then treated the crowd to a gangsta party as he teamed up with Snoop for “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”. Noticeably missing was “California Love” with Dr. Dre but that is probably asking too much from a rap icon who had been dead for fifteen years.
The Internet has been abuzz with 2Pac’s holographic appearance since the news and video broke on Monday. Twitter had 2Pac trending for the first time since the anniversary of his death in September. Facebook became a hotbed of discussion concerning the ethics of hologram projecting a deceased music icon on stage.
In one of the conversations I was involved in people wondered aloud if Dre and Snoop are given a free pass on resurrecting Pac how long until other artist begin to imitate them. How long before Nas is regularly doing duets with Bob Marley? How long until Drake revives his long-time crush Aaliyah for a remix of “One in a Million”? The Hip Hop Community may need skis for the slippery slope the good Doctor has set us down.
The danger does not stop there however. how long until these hologram artists begin going on tour by themselves? How long until P. Diddy, in collaboration with the Christopher Wallace Estate, produces “The Life After Death Afterlife Tour”. A tour, starring a hologram makes perfect business sense. The hologram does not need a hotel room or security. It does not need a steady stream of liquor or even a hot meal. The hologram rapper would not even need a tour bus. It could travel in the trunk of the tech guy’s Ford Focus.
I am 27, when Pac and BIG died I was twelve. I never got to see either in concert, if you could reproduce that priceless experience for $35 a ticket, would I go? I do not know, but I would sure be sorely tempted. If you do not have front row seats it would be difficult to tell who is being projected and who is not anyway. From the nose bleeds Snoop probably looked just as ethereal as 2Pac did.
The Hip Hop purist in me says no to holograms! Whether the artist is living, dead, consenting or not I would rather have a flesh and blood person behind a mic. However, is there not something alluring about having your favorite artist in the prime of his career with perfect breathe control? They would not miss a beat, would not show up to the arena forty-five minutes late. For promoters they would not even have to pay them! Sure the projection crew would be paid but they would be paid peanuts compared to what these artists garnered at the prime of their careers.
These are all interesting questions and possibilities. One, must keep in mind that in order for a virtual 2Pac, or any other deceased artist for that matter, to go on tour it would need the approval of the person’s estate. The overseer’s of the estate will have the final say over who gets projected on to stage and who does not. However, now that Pandora’s Box has been opened it is going to take a lot more than Afeni Shakur to close it. Word.
Artist: Obie Trice
Album: Bottoms Up
Label: Black Market Entertainment
“O-Trice, Back At It!” Six years after the release of Second Rounds On Me, Obie Trice is back with his third album, Bottoms Up, which keeps in line with his other alcohol-inspired album titles. Ten years ago Eminem memorably sampled the line “Obie Trice, real name, no gimmicks” from Obie Trice’s “Rap Name” on “Without Me.” Now, Obie maintains his “no gimmicks” attitude on this project and even brings the line back on “Ups & Downs.”
His past albums, Cheers and Second Rounds On Me, featured many collaborations and with only four features on this sixteen track album Obie Trice seems more comfortable showcasing his lyrics and flow on his own. The subject matter of the album is light and ranges from the type of woman Obie fantasizes about on “I Pretend” to the story of his career and relationships within the rap game.
Although Obie Trice split from Shady Records in 2008, Eminem has a strong presence on the album through samples, shout outs, production, and a feature. The project kicks off with a Dr. Dre produced introduction on which Obie spits a verse letting us know that on this album he is “simply spittin whats in O-Trice’s system.” He then thanks all those who have helped and supported his career so far. The intro is followed by the energetic “Going Nowhere.” Obie shows his confidence and lets us know he’s “in this to win this” over Eminem’s production. The first single off the project, “Battle Cry” features Adrian Rezza and was produced by his brother Lucas Rezza. It was released last summer. On the track, Obie reminisces about his critics and past albums. He starts each verse with his catchy battle cry of “O-Trice, Back At It” reminding us of his perseverance in the game. The second single “Spend The Day” features singer, Drey Skoni and was produced by Detroit rap/production trio NoSpeakerz, who produced a third of the album. The track tells the story of what its like for a woman to spend a day with Obie. “Spill My Drink” is a catchy track on which Obie mentions his album delays and who has stuck by him through all this time.
On the highly anticipated Statik Selektah produced “Richard,” Obie and Slim take it back to “Shady 1.0” with alternating verses packed full of references about them being “dicks” with Eminem on the chorus. Obie comments on Interscope, as a label, and his issues with the industry on “Ups & Downs” and “Hell Yea.” He also addresses his relationships with Eminem and Dre accompanied by a few Dre and Em samples on “Hell Yea.” Trice and the late MC Breed represent for the Michigan rap scene on “Crazy.” “Lebron On” is the story of Obie’s career told through basketball metaphors and comparisons to Lebron. It discusses overcoming obstacles and being underrated and hated on. Obie ends the last track with a shout out to “the G-Unit he knows” and a request to follow him on twitter @RealObieTrice.
A few tracks such as “BME Up” or “Secrets” would have been a good fit for a 50 Cent verse or chorus, but they are solid tracks anyway. There is an early 2000s classic feel to the album which maybe because he started the project so long ago. Obie’s verses are authentic and unaffected and uninfluenced by current music. The overall production of the album is solid and a good fit for Obie’s style. Many tracks have memorable witty lines and metaphors like “The way I hurt em with the ‘Ye, she call me Amber Rose.” Although some tracks are more memorable than others, the project is comprised of well-written verses, catchy choruses and diverse flow, and definitely worth a listen.