Not everyone is a ’Pac-O-Gram fan. When late rap legend Tupac Shakur was resurrected Sunday night on the Coachella stage as a hologram, music lovers everywhere took notice. Most applauded the effort, but there were those who felt uneasy watching a reimagined Tupac prance across the stage.
MTV News senior writer James Montgomery was quite skeptical of the whole display. “Who wouldn’t want to see Tupac or anyone on a tour?
But just for me there were some things about it that kind of bothered me,” he said when he appeared on Wednesday’s “RapFix
Live.” “It didn’t seem really right to me.”
From the beginning of the performance, Montgomery was rubbed the wrong way. “What the f— is up, Coachella?” the optically enhanced Tupac image screamed before “Hail Mary” played from the stage speakers.
“Tupac died in 1996 and Coachella didn’t start until 1999, which means that someone basically had to record that dialogue for him, which is kind of troubling,” he said. “It’s basically putting words in the deceased’s mouth.”
Rob Markman, senior hip-hop writer for MTV News, has the opposing view. He believes that the projected image of ’Pac onstage isn’t much different from the big-screen video montages that rappers have used to honor Shakur and other fallen rappers like the Notorious B.I.G. and Big Pun during their own concerts.
From Buzzworthy: “We Don’t Know How To Feel About the Hologram”
“It’s the same thing when they get onstage and pay homage to Tupac and Tupac is on the big screen behind you, it’s just brought in front of you,” he argued. “It’s just the technology used in a different way, and it’s exciting right now.”
Holographic performances also give younger music fans the opportunity to, in a sense, see old-school acts that are no longer around. “That’s the closest that I will ever get to see ’Pac,” Markman said. “I can’t wait until the Barclays Center opens up in Brooklyn … I want to see Jay-Z
bring out hologram Big.”
In addition to the artistic possibilities, the business prospects are also sure to be appealing to some. “It raises these weird questions about artist legacy,” Montgomery said. “How long until you see every casino in Vegas get Elvis or Billie Holiday and they have these sort of quote, unquote live shows of these people?”
“RapFix Live” host Sway Calloway noted that no matter which side of the debate you fall on, quality is the most important aspect of it — and the general consensus is that the Tupac hologram was done well. “Dr. Dre sanctioned it, Afeni Shakur OK’d it,” he said, referring to Tupac’s mother and onetime producer. “Bottom line: If it was poorly done and it was wack, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”
What side of the debate do you stand on? Are you pro- or anti-’Pac-O-Gram? Sound off in the comments!