Holograms. What used to be exclusive to a Windows screensaver or a deck of Pokemon cards has greatly expanded, to say the least. These days, holography has evolved like none other, and is now being used to bring rappers to the main stage when they literally can't be there at all. Imagine you're at a music festival and out of nowhere, the late Tupac Shakur arises out of thin air, performing all of your 1990's favorites. Yes, that happened, and it's all thanks to some expensive laser lights and the outstanding work of digital effects artists.
Holography has projected some of the greatest rappers of all time onto a platform they couldn't have been on without it, and is undoubtedly transforming the future of concerts for years to come. For the legendary rappers who have passed on, it gives their fans, old and new, a chance to experience (or relive) a profound moment. Current hip-hop artists have chosen to use the special effect in music videos, like Quavo, while others such as will.i.am utilized the platform to share their thoughts on presidential elections. What a time to be alive, indeed.
Even The Notorious B.I.G.'s mother, Voletta Wallace, announced a HumaGram of the deceased Brooklyn lyricist is in the works. Faith Evans, who recently dropped the duet album, The King & I, with her late ex-husband, briefly spoke about it last year, telling the Dame Dash Radio Show she wants to "debut it in the first video for the album, and maybe use it a little bit performing live. But that depends on a lot of things… It’s expensive, as you can imagine.”
Eight rappers have used holographic effects in their work over the years, and each time delivered a memorable virtual performance. Take a look at how each one of them were able to make it their own below.
In 2013, Rock the Bells held one of their more memorable festivals ever. Alongside Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, the late, great Eazy-E virtually appeared in the middle of the stage, rocking the crowd with hits like "Straight Outta Compton" and "Boyz-N-The Hood."
On Election Night in 2008, Will.i.am. became the first rapper to appear in holographic form as he discussed the night's events with Anderson Cooper. "We're at an eve of a brand new day in America, and it feels good being here in Chicago," he cheerfully stated. "All this technology, I'm being beamed to you, like in Star Wars and stuff. It's great."
Janelle Monae assisted rapper M.I.A. during her performance of the hit "Bad Girls" while at Audi's A3 Launch event in 2014. The two performed live from different coasts, but were able to appear on each other's stages with the help of holograms.
Keke Palmer recently released the music video for "Wind Up," featuring Quavo. The Migos member, who lends two verses on the track, materialized to deliver them both for the bass-filled banger.
Eazy-E wasn't the only rapper who passed on to make an appearance at the 2013 Rock The Bells. Wu-Tang Clan's late Ol' Dirty Bastard virtually joined his team on stage as well to a gleeful RZA, as shown below. Unfortunately, Method Man walked off stage due to sound issues, telling fans, “I promise you, you will never see a fucking show like this again from us. Trust me," before the end of the set.
Back in February, the "Cut It" performer landed a $20,000 hologram deal to virtually rap his hit singles at Heat Ultra Lounge in California. O.T. Genasis is the first in hip-hop to receive such a deal, which he didn't even have to show up to.
Arguably the most celebrated hologram in hip-hop history has to be the one of Tupac Shakur, which reportedly took four months to make. Accompanied by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in real time during 2012 Coachella, fans couldn't control themselves as the late rapper let them know "what the fuck this is."