Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment
Even though he's no longer with us, Tupac Shakur can still work a crowd. In an impressive bit of stagecraft, the legendary rapper's "ghost" performed a duet with Snoop Dogg at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Sunday night. Hologram Tupac was definitely uncanny, even giving a special shout-out to the Coachella crowd. But did the stunt cool -- or just plain weird? Watch the controversial performance below!
During the performance, a shirtless Tupac appeared for a solo rendition of "Hail Mary" and a duet of "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" in perfect sync with Snoop Dogg, before disappearing in a burst of light.
The real Tupac was murdered 16 years ago in a drive-by shooting at the age of 25. Reincarnating him at Coachella was apparently Dr. Dre's idea; according to TMZ, Dre first got the permission of Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur, and made a donation to the late rapper's charity as a thank-you gesture.
The hologram itself was created by the Hollywood wizards at Digital Domain, who crafted Brad Pitt's CG image for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and reincarnated a younger Jeff Bridges for TRON: Legacy. MTV News reports that the digital Tupac took four months to create and cost between $100,000 and $400,000.
But as impressive (and expensive) as it was, not everyone was a fan of the Tupac hologram. A Rolling Stone reporter compared it to "a well-rendered video game crossed with the apparition of Obi-Wan Kenobi who appears to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back," calling the effect "weird and sort of disturbing." The Huffington Post called the performance "uncomfortable." And on Twitter, Questlove from The Roots wrote that the hologram "haunted me in my sleep."
"Holograph Concerts will now replace touring cause it will be cheaper," Questlove predicted. "Somehow in 20 years i can't play house of blues cause Elvis will be booked for a month."
He added: "You better believe imma preserve a Roots show via hologram now so that in 2240 i can still tour forever and ever....ha ha."
Could hologram concerts really be the way of the future? The company that made the Coachella Tupac seems to think so.
"It's affordable in the sense that if we had to bring entertainers around world and create concerts across the country, we could put (artists) in every venue in the country," one of the designers told MTV News.
Still, there's definitely an uncomfortable element to reviving a singer whose murder has been unsolved since 1996. And where does the line get drawn? Is it too soon to bring back Whitney Houston as a hologram? What about someone from the past like Buddy Holly, who never could have predicted this technology while he was alive? Would a computerized Elvis Presley be an insult to his legacy, or is just a logical evolution from Elvis impersonators? Look at the can of worms you've opened, Dr. Dre!
Then again, there are some fans who find the whole thing funny -- like whoever started the Twitter account for Hologram Tupac.
"I could have sworn I died with a shirt on," he tweeted after the performance.