Rapper Tupac Shakur, who was shot to death 16 years ago at the age of 25, was resurrected on stage Sunday for an eerie posthumous performance with former creative collaborator and hip-hop icon, Snoop Dogg.
In the closing set of the three-day Coachella Music Festival in Indio, Calif., the life-like image of a shirtless, tattooed Shakur rises from the darkness, gold cross dangling from his neck.
Raising his arms into the air, the image of the prolific rapper yells, “What the [expletive] is up, Coachella?!”
Shakur's song “Hail Mary” was then played, with the hologram moving as if it were performing, and then Snoop Dogg joined the figure for their duet, “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted." Then the hologram begins to slowly fade before exploding in a burst of light.
Shakur was murdered in Las Vegas in 1996 and his murder remains unsolved.
The dramatic imagery proved a haunting highlight of the festival for many, but it was not without controversy.
Wrote Rolling Stone reporter Matthew Perpetua, “The hologram basically looks like something out of a very well-rendered video game crossed with the apparition of Obi-Wan Kenobi who appears to Luke Skywalker in “The Empire Strikes Back.” It's very impressive in technical terms, but also very weird and sort of disturbing. The audience seemed to love it, so don't be surprised if this opens up the possibility for further "performances" by dead stars at the festival.”
Musician Questlove tweeted, “That Pac Hologram haunted me in my sleep. Rest In Peace 2pac.”
The technology used for the performance drew upon both modern day techniques and “19th century magician’s tricks," reports The Verge.com.
“A video was first was composed by New York (special effects) company MPC using a mixture of live footage, wire-framing, and CGI," Aaron Souppouris wrote. "This was then fed into (3-D hologram company) Musion's holographic technology, which projects the image onto a special foil. The foil is based on principles set out in the old magician's illusion Pepper's Ghost, which trick audiences into thinking they're viewing a person or object rather than a simple reflection.”
Whatever the technology, some were disturbed by the image.
“Well, that was uncomfortable,” Kia Makarechi wrote on The Huffington Post. “Despite supposedly having been dead for over 15 years, Tupac Shakur joined Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on the main stage at Coachella late Sunday night. ... Even more unnervingly, he started his mini-set by shouting out "Coachella" by name.”
ESPN contributor Anthony Bain was blunt, tweeting, "Please never put me on stage with a hologram of my dead friend."
You can watch video of the performance on YouTube (warning: adult language).
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