It might seem silly for me to dedicate one of my columns to a rapper who died in 1996 and who I am also extremely unfamiliar with. However, thanks to Coachella 2012, the late rhythm and poetry artist, Tupac Shakur has been in entertainment news a lot recently because of his “resurrection” at the California music festival.
Earlier this week during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s performance at Coachella, a holographic image of Shakur appeared on the stage performing the songs “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” both songs of the late rapper.
As you could imagine, the audience fell silent when the hologram appeared on stage, looking like the real Tupac. I’m not sure if that silence was due to being overly excited or shocked and a little creeped out. I’m going to assume the latter.
While I highly doubt that Tupac faked his own death and is going to make a comeback like some theories claim, I do think it is possible that whoever created that hologram could be up to something.
The hologram was created by digitally piecing together physical characteristics and movements from Tupac’s performances. So my question isn’t “is Tupac alive” but rather “is this the beginning of a new era in the music industry?” I really hope not. How uncool would it be to say you went to a Lady Gaga hologram concert? Yeah, see?
At the Grammys in 2006, the virtual band Gorillaz performed with a holographic Madonna, so the technology has been around for a while but the creators of Gorillaz have been the only ones using it.
Mariah Carey has also previously performed in holographic form for a Christmas TV advertisements.
One other noteworthy virtual performance was digital Elvis singing “If I Can Dream” with Celine Dion on American Idol in 2007.
While the U.S. is experimenting with holographic performances, one holographic pop singer in Japan has been touring since 2007.
Perhaps they are one step ahead of us. Hatsune Miku is a Japanese hologram of an imaginary artist, not someone who actually exists. This digitally made-up singer actually sells out tours in Japan. Her songs are created with synthesizers and she resembles Japanese anime.
Needless to say, due to the hype from the hologram at Coachella, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are considering taking Tupac’s ghostly image with them on the road. Representatives for the two are currently discussing logistics for a potential tour that will feature Tupac.
If there were to be upcoming tours of digital celebrities, the music industry and fans would be impacted and not in a good way.
If we are capable of faking a performance with technology, wouldn’t that ultimately ruin the magic that is live music?
Maybe those theories about Tupac are accurate. Maybe he is making a come back.