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.