Coachella, long the hipster’s choice for desert festivals featuring hyper-relevant indiebuzz bands, this year played host to a throwback to the Southern California G-funk days of yore. Yeah, Snoop and Dre were both looking particularly smiley — perhaps due to chilling with the reggae eel, and perhaps due to at least a decade of polishing and repackaging their images — and by most accounts they kicked ass. I know one thing: with that pair relying heavily on the 90s in their set, I’m almost uncomfortably jealous of all of my friends filling my Facebook feed with stylish photos from Coachella’s lush lawns. I would have loved to see the duo taking it back to the glory days.
But no one seems to really care how Snoop and Dre performed because TUPAC PLAYED. People — even currently all around me in the office — are freaking out about a hologram of a long-dead person performing one track. And, I’ll admit, I got goosebumps the first time I saw it. But now — as I hear the video start up for the TENTH time this morning — I’m wondering who thought this was a good idea.
Sure, it’s great to see all kinds of people going ga-ga over the man who was likely rap’s most powerful, aggressive poet. Tupac left an indelible mark on rap, and that would have been true whether or not he was murdered. But to drag out video of him in his prime (with possibly computer-enhanced six-pack), nearly 16 years after his death, alongside a pair of guys who’ve left the world they once shared with Tupac long behind, as tens of thousands of affluent young folk wave their hands and talk about how meaningful it all is that a dead man is back to sing a song about getting killed? It seems more than just a little bit gauche, doesn’t it?And, yeah, it’s impressive how much stage presence Pac has, even as a computerized ghost. Props are due to the people at Musion, who designed the 3d-but-really-2d rapper, a feat they’ve also pulled off for Gorillaz. For the real holograms, meet Dr. Laser.But, seriously. Is this what we’re doing to Tupac now? I mean, hologram performances are exclusively utilized by corny Japanese nü-metal-ish girl-rock supergroups. Even worse, it wasn’t even his real voice, at least not totally; as my colleague Abraham Riesman pointed out, it’s doubtful Tupac ever yelled “What the fuck is up Coachella!?” at any point in his life.
Look at all that vitality.
Is that where we’re headed with killed rappers? Are Biggie and Pimp C going to be repurposed as digital cartoons who shill tracks that will slowly devolve into pop schlock for desert parties in the uncanny valley? Let’s not forget that a decade and a half after both Tupac and Biggie were murdered, their cases are still only kinda-sorta solved. But that’s fine, because apparently they’re not really dead.Follow Derek Mead on Twitter: @drderekmead.