Courtesy of MCT
A quick rundown of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I watched the video of Tupac Shakur’s performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival Sunday: He’s alive! This is pretty awesome, this is kind of creepy and I forgot how good 2pac’s music is.
It was nice to get a throwback to the golden era of hip-hop as 2pac (Shakur’s stage name), took the stage with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, though the late 2pac was in hologram form. And it happened on the same day Nicki Minaj deleted her Twitter account – this had to represent some sort of win for the genre.
But the bigger story to take from all of this is the impact this kind of technology can have on the world of entertainment.
Dre and Snoop are talking about taking Holo-Pac on tour. Does this mean we can also expect a tour headlined by the likes of Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Whitney Houston, or Michael Jackson in the future? It sounds silly, but considering the reception that 2pac received at Coachella and the almighty dollar that could be made from such performances, it would seem to only be a matter of time before we see these icons resurrected for performance.
Part of me is excited for the possibility. The other part of me, the part with respect for the musical legacy and integrity of these deceased artists, is dreading it. Because what will start as a way to honor the life and career of the individual will quickly go down the path of a shameless money grab. As the technology becomes more accessible, surely we’ll see a digital Jimi Hendrix showing up at every rock club around the country. Where do we draw the line in determining what is being done for the fans and what is being done for money while simultaneously tarnishing a legacy?
There is a sort of mythical essence to a musical artist dying young. We can look back fondly on their legacy and ask the question of “what if?” regarding their careers. Musicians can become even more famous posthumously than they were in life. Their legacies are eternal. But while it would be cool to see Amy Winehouse perform again, wouldn’t we rather remember her based off our memories of her career? Sure, it would be great to see The Beatles reunited. But isn’t there something immoral about exploiting their work? And how would the artist feel about it if they were actually around to comment on it? The term “rolling over in their grave” seems appropriate in these circumstances.
It does not have to only pertain to those who are six feet under. In order to maximize the appearances of today’s celebrities, could we see holograms being used so even living celebrities could appear in two places at once? Maybe Kanye West starts performing concerts in three different cities each night. Katy Perry shows up for five different public appearances a day. A whole new revenue stream opens up from this advance in technology. But I am not sure it is a good thing.
The appearance of 2pac at Coachella seemed to have the right intentions. It was for the fans and it was to honor a legend. I would like to see it stop there, but I believe it is a slippery slope and I am sure it will be the start of a landslide.