2.0Pac: The Rise of #PlugLife

On April 15, 2012, the Internet saw a brutal spike in net-wide OMG usage. Meanwhile, @katyperry explored a nascent dualism with the tweet:

WTF? Before we get into the fact that @katyperry saw Tupac Shakur—a man who died long before @ was a nominal prefix—I need to get this off my chest: No. That’s not what you say, @katyperry. No. If you cried, you cried. If you didn’t, whatever. Nobody will think less of you. In fact, what she saw at #coachella was a 2D pseudo-hologram of the often questionably late rapper. Certainly, I’m sure I’d cry as well if I saw Tupac these days. Cry and scream. Even run/crap. But why the fuck would @katyperry cry about a Tupac hologram, right guys?

Anyway It was pretty great. Besides the eerie slidewalk issue, the Hologram Tupac was surprisingly realistic. That is, assuming that you hadn’t expected to see Tupac at all ever again, and are not prone to dumbass comments on Internet Forums, like, “lol. Its so obviously CGI it’s not funny. It only fools people because the stage is darkly lit”. Actually, tim from yayhooray.net, I wouldn’t say It is fooling anybody. Instead they’re surprised because they weren’t expecting to see dead people on stage. Unsurprisingly, many people are not super stoked about this. It seems that Tupac’s projected Coachella cameo, originally conceived of by Dr Dre as a really good idea, strikes some living humans as wildly inappropriate. But, like, why?

It really shouldn’t be that weird. We listen to his music, watch his videos, and, as technology advances, why wouldn’t we see a late great stage performance? It may be no weirder than buying one of the dude’s seven post-alive albums. I mean, tech-wise, it’s about as weird as attending a laser light show to get the Led out or jam down with Floyd at your local planetarium. Many an eye were not batted when Celine Dion had her little concert with the King, or when 2.0ld Blue Eye$ and Alicia Keys hooked up for Simon Cowell’s musical pervertatum. Imagine for a moment that you and your fellow MILFS are at a Bublè concert, when—BAM—there’s fucking Frank Sinatra on the stage for a Half Dead Duet. Or, say, Justin Timberlake had a dance off with a young MJ from the Off the Wall years. Now, excusing our hypothetical JT for a serious lack of tact regarding the Whoa! Too Soon, Bro! clause of fucking forever, these Spectrecles would seem flat out cheesy at best, or, at their most transparent (yes I did), they would seem like just what they are: #FutureHype.

If we did get a holographic tour—which, really, would just be a series of projections under the pretense of intracontinental movement—along with a digital appropriation of his voice (but whose words come through the Bose?), then should we brace ourselves for 2.0PAC’s 2.0riginal material? Then again, is it so different from Gorillaz? Or seeing footage of John F. Kennedy noting to the world that Tom Hanks needs to drain his dick? Also, not to upset you, but Cirque du Soleil will soon be executing—ahem. Pardon me—enacting a not-live Michael Jackson set in Las Vegas. So much for Too Soon. I wonder who I should talk to about securing the rights for a new Whitney Houston reality show, Fall 2012. I’d call it: Not Living With Whitney. It’d be a fucking riot.

So, #ExistentialBummers aside, we may just be a step behind in our acceptance of a presumably acceptable musical medium. Of course, Japan is practically right there. Hatsune Miku is something called a Vocaloid. Her voice is a collection of samples taken of voice actress Saki Fujita, and put together by Yamaha for their synthesizer software. Basically, anybody who buys the software is able then to create their own original Hatsune Miku songs. As many as they want, evidenced by the supposedly 100,000 songs under this babe’s, like, cyber-belt or whatever. Miku tours with sold out sets. In 2010 she released an album that sold 23,000 copies in the first week, securing her a special spot in history as the first ever Vocaloid to top the charts. “She” is a musical phenomenon. To the effect that her existence is a powerful driver in the development of 3D display FutureTek. Obviously, whoever manages to put the most lifelike Hatsume Miku up on a stage will no doubt be gifted a fucking minting press by the Japanese Ministry of Finance. But unlike Tupac Shakur, Hatsune Miku (“whom”, it should be noted, is, in some instances, to holograms what Tupixle Shaklick-here-to-win-free-iPad3 is to smoke and mirrors. That is to say: represents an actual execution of), was never a living human being. The Japanese sensation is, from start to finish, an incredibly successful work of mass-fiction.

The issue here may be that Tupac wasn’t just a celebrity like any other. He was more than the 3 x platinum 24 year old we all remember. More than the dead dude who pulled in fifteen million dollars in 2008. Tupac was nearly the embodiment of the modern Thug Persona that we’ve built up over the last thirty years. The raw dog, shoot first, hair trigger, fuckhead image that sends palpable waves of discomfort through passengers during the first three stops on the L into Brooklyn. But it wasn’t that empty animal unpredictability that keeps this dude alive. It’s the other part. That inner shit we might label the #TruPac. An intellectual with a nigh obsessive revolutionary bent. By the time he died, this dude had effectively riled the dangerous classes. The poor who felt misrepresented, at best, if not downright abused, by the state. This, during a time when #GangFright was such that we used to get stopped and questioned if more than one of our set had the same color shirt on.

Where this whole wacky thing may get a bit sticky is when we have a dead rapper giving shout outs to people and places he never knew and never was, respectively. Or when we watch Snoop’s attempts to act cool on stage with his dead homie, looking exactly the way he did twelve years ago. More than anything it raises questions as to fair use of a man’s image. Like in the Loyal to the Game album wherefrom Eminem caught a little flack when he digitally rearranged Makaveli’s previously unreleased material to have Pac say shit he never said, and adjusted his waveforms to better match the new beats. 2Pacworld.co.uk, for example, claims to have been “in disbelieve” [sic] when they “found that Eminem used his position to edit/change Tupac’s lyrics”.

Many folks may be tempted to call Scandalouz on this kind of vocal infringement, but we see this shit all the time, right? Sampling is a cornerstone of rap, and studio producers will often disassemble a musician’s session by means of beat slicing and the finished product is more machine than man by the time it gets to our shitty Apple earbuds. Then, I suppose, if a line is not drawn, and we reduce a human voice to the level of a sequencer drum kit, then how long till we begin introducing Lil So’n’So on the PAC, right alongside MC Slim GnZ and DJ h1p 5tar? And, yo, speaking of dead dudes rock and rolling over in their graves: Hitoshi Ueki, Japanese famous guy, is set to be the first dead celebrity to be given the old Dixie Flatline treatment. The Yamaha Vocaloid team recently announced their semi-successful appropriation of the deceased vocalist’s vocal chords.

But, come on, the mu$ic indu$try would never do something so base as to create a 2Pacaloid all for the sake of a little cash, right? That’d be more inappropriate than a Vic Morrow Pez dispenser. #GoogleIt.

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[Author Edit of Article Written for and Published by @TheClusterMag]

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