Flesh and blood performers may soon find themselves competing with a new breed of artist for ticket and t-shirt sales: the age of the hologram has arrived.
The collective mind of the music industry is still spinning after Tupac Shakur’s holographic likeness performed at the Coachella Music Festival on April 15 and April 22.
The projection spit the 1997 single “Hail Mary” and then Snoop Dogg shared the stage with it for “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” Watch it all unfold here.
Tupac’s Greatest Hits returned to the Billboard 200 where it has been absent since 2000, and sales of “Hail Mary” scored a 1,530 percent increase.
The Coachella show-stealer was not the first hologram used to capture the likeness of a late artist. Musion Technology Ltd., one of the companies responsible, previously created a Frank Sinatra projection for Simon Cowell’s 50th birthday party.
The performance spurred rumors of a tour for Holo-Pac, a parody Twitter account and a spike in record and song sales for the late West Cost rhymesayer.
While the technology behind holograms is groundbreaking and the result entertaining, the idea that artists aren’t in control of their image is troubling for some music fans.
University of Wisconsin junior Dylan Hill helps book shows on campus through the Wisconsin Union Directorate Music Committee. According to Hill, a hologram reduces an artist’s music from an art form to a product.
“The image of a dead artist many times is controlled by people whose primary motive is earning money, and everything about hologram tours reeks of a money grab,” Hill said. “That’s no way to treat the dead. The legacy of important artists is something to be revered. To have a tour like this is to take a serious artistic statement like the body of work an artist has and reduce it down to mere noise.”
Players in the music industry have begun to toy with other holographic resurrections.
In an interview with NME, Dr. Dre said he’d like to see performances by Marvin Gaye and Jimi Hendrix.Sanj Surati, Head of Music at Musion, also spoke with NME and named the artists he’d like to see immortalized as holograms. They included Kurt Cobain, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.
All the buzz surrounding Holo-Pac spawned the inevitable list: 5 rap artists we want to see return as a hologram
1. Notorious B.I.G
Killed at a Soul Train Music Awards after-party the year after Tupac Shakur, it seems fitting the Notorious B.I.G. would be next in line for resurrection via hologram. The legacy of Brooklyn’s own Biggie Smalls transcends the many accolades that bear his name among them a VMA, Billboard Music Awards for “Rap Artist of the Year” and “Rap Single of the Year” and an MTV Video Music Award for “Hypnotize.”
Together Ready to Die and Life After Death sold over 14 million copies, and Born Again, released after his death, debuted at the top of the Billboard Charts.
B.I.G. elevated the East Coast rap scene and drove the success of Sean Combs’, Bad Boy Records. His influence lives on in the rappers who sample his work among them Lupe Fiasco, Pitbull, T.I., Wiz Khalifa, Usher, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Lil’ Kim and the shout-outs he receives in works like Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn, Go Hard,” “Spread love, Biggie, Brooklyn, hippie.”
It was fitting that the crowds who gathered on the sidewalks to pay tribute to his passing hearse blasted “Hypnotize,” as the song’s title captures his effect on the music industry, even today.
2. ‘Ol Dirty Bastard
ODB would guarantee another entertaining and, no doubt, buzz-worthy performance. He left the rap game in 2004 but was known for his aggressive, innovative style.
ODB was a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, a collective that has become a reference point for underground rap fans. Their first album Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers was named among Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” His solo effort, Return to the 36 Chambers, remains one of the weirdest, most unhinged slices of rap ever put on disc.
A reunion would be nothing short of raw.
As a member of N.W.A., one of the founding gangsta rap groups, Eazy-E more than deserves to be memorialized before today’s fans.
Eazy died in 1995, but his influence “helped turn gangsta rap into a commercial bonanza” according to his obituary in the New York Times. He served as an executive producer on Straight Outta Compton, the groundbreaking 1988 album that sold over 3 million copies and worried plenty of people, including the FBI.
The record was dubbed crude, misogynistic, violent and nihilistic by the Los Angeles Times, and the group and their work pushed the boundaries of hip-hop, for better or worse.
4. Nate Dogg
Along with Snoop Dogg and Warren G, Nate Dogg was a member of 213 named for an area code in Los Angeles. Dogg boasts collaborations with former members of 213, Dr. Dre, and Tupak Shakur including a guest spot on Dre’s legendary The Chronic. As an innovator who cross-pollinated R&B with rap, he garnered four Grammy nominations.
After his passing, he received shout-outs from Snoop Dogg and Dave Chappelle as a hip-hop legend.
5. Slick Rick (Spoiler: He’s still alive.)
Slick Rick is still performing as a member of the living, but his contributions to hip-hop are so major his name begged inclusion among the elite worthy enough to be transformed into a hologram.
Slick Rick, who also goes by MC Ricky D and Rick the Ruler, is a British-American rap artist known for his story-telling style and his eye-patch. He has been sampled by countless greats, among them: The Notorious B.I.G., N.W.A., A Tribe Called Quest, Run-DMC, De La Soul, Eminem, Lupe Fiasco, Nas, Lil’ Kim Ghostface Killah, Jay-Z and MC Hammer.
Rick’s work inspired some of Biggie’s most famous tracks. “La Di Da Di” includes the lyric, “Ricky, Ricky, Ricky can’t you see. Somehow your words just hypnotize me. I just love your jazzy ways. Yo, MC Rick. My love is here to stay.” Any self-respecting Notorious fan will recognize it as the muse for the chorus in the Brooklyn rapper’s “Hypnotize”: “Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can’t you see, sometimes your words just hypnotize me. And, I just love your flashy ways. Guess that’s why they broke, and you’re so paid.”
Would you pay to see a hologram concert by one of these rap legends?
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