The fight was long and hard. Many said the goal was impossible. Yet step by step, obstacle by obstacle, Hip Hop progressed from a small local urban subculture to the preeminent social force of today's youth. Along the way Hip Hop has lost many of its greatest artists and contributors. Musically they would live on in their work. Much of it released like the recordings of The Notorious BIG or Big Pun. On the other hand the iconic Tupac left the world with a sizable amount of unreleased music. This audio content in conjunction with what recorded visuals existed made up the best if not the only way in which we could see and experience those that were now gone. At least that was the only way. Today technology offers another option.
Last year at the Coachella music festival we were introduced to the first fully holographic hip hop artist rendition. The audience witnessed the return of Tupac in the midst of a performance set with Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg. The event had the internet all fired up and all that people could speak on was how real and life-like the hologram looked. All that people could ask was who would be next. We received our answer this past weekend at Rock the Bells in San Bernardino, California. Saturday night on what would have been the N.W.A front man's 49th birthday; Eazy E in hologram form graced the stage to "perform" a series of his 90's gangster rap hits. On the following day the legendary Wu Tang Clan honored their fallen brother with an Ol' Dirty Bastard hologram. Having never witnessed these holograms in person I can only wonder how you truly react to them. Is it any different then showing old footage of said artist on a screen? Is there a difference in energy seeing them in that somewhat three dimensional style? Some say the recreation is an affront on the legacy of said artists.
That is the line that we dance on with the use of hologram technology in this manner. To some it's the closet to seeing someone they never personally witnessed while to many who saw the real thing in the flesh it may be a bit creepy. I've heard it said that it's nice that it can be done but perhaps we don't need this. Technology never stops it just keeps on progressing. With that said I'm sure it's just a matter of time if not a bit of a race to see who will debut hologram Biggie Smalls first, Diddy or Jay-Z. And while that honestly wouldn't shock any one I can't help but wonder if a highly creative record label could pull of its' own fully digital artist. Many artists project false images already being acted out in real life. Could that be recreated via hologram? During a time when the creative bar is admittedly lower for mainstream success it would not surprise me to see a label take a chance on that if only for the possibility of an "artist" without serious overhead. Eliminating the cost of various budgets and insurance alone would make it worth a thought.
Well, perhaps a fully functional recording hologram is a bit of a reach but the entertainment seeking audience already has shown that fully animated movies and television can engage them on powerful emotional levels. Is music so exempt from that possibility?