Words by Tony Grands
Remember Hologram Tupac?
As much of a buzz as the performance of Aftermath Records ignited in the entertainment world, the idea of seeing a rapper’s ghost on stage didn’t settle with people like Dr. Dre & Snoop probably hoped it would. Not to mention, the idea had already been done before, over the years (just not to this degree), & aside from rousing a bit of nostalgia in dedicated fans, it’s still a ghost on stage.
Artists performing after death is nothing new, & as technology gallops forward, the fusing of live & dead artists on a more life-like level is bound to become more commonplace. The latest news in resurrection music is Drake’s attempt at introducing deceased songbird Aaliyah to a brand new generation. He’s signed on to be a part of a team (though it was originally his idea) to put together an album of her songs, & present it to her loyal fans, as well as all the impressionable young girls waiting on their next messiah. For the most part, Drake was met with backlash & spite, but that seems to be a nod to the blind hatred he regularly receives rather than his attempt to
pimp a memory recreate musical legacies.
The problem with posthumous music is that there’s always the slight chance that the artist may not have wanted to do whatever it is that they’re manipulated into doing. Aaliyah may not have a current desire to perform with Drake & company. By now in her career, she may have left the cultural confines altogether, for whatever reason. What if she stopped singing, joined a convent, & became a nun, dedicating her newfound existence to renouncing all secular things, including her marriage to R. Kelly & all those molesty songs he wrote for her? That’s the thing about death; it’s the supposed final chapter of our earthly journey. There’s no more speculation because you’re no longer with us. Notice that the age old adage is “Rest In Peace.” It’s not “See Ya ‘Round” or “Meet You In The Future.”
Once we “leave” this place, unable to make decisions & choices for ourselves, the government disables our paper trail. The reason for that is so no one can assume our identity(s) & prance around under the implication that they are us. Well, what’s so different here? & the artist won’t be getting paid, so it’s not a matter of helping them earn a quick buck. (The estate receives whatever portion of the royalties that are agreed upon, & this helps with what/whoever is left behind, but my point remains.) Drake could conjure up his superstar-power & produce a movie or musical based on her life. Or even search for a look-sound-act-alike & mold her into the next best thing. There are numerous ways to showcase his obviously unhealthy obsession with her other than by revamping dusty vocals & meshing them with overly current or unnecessarily nostalgic background music.
I realize the Drake is just extending his passion & I respect his enthusiasm, but I’m not ready to live in a world where Rick James or Big L drops new songs because of a computer program that’s designed to chop up words & sentences & allow you to put them in any order you see fit. A computer program that will let you take words & recompose them, twisted & contrived into whatever the engineer & producer’s collective heart desires. That’s too close to augmented reality; those would be robot records that aren’t organic nor natural. & while this may seem like a farfetched idea, so were buttonless cellphones 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, there’s no reason on God’s earth why Drake (& Tim Mosley & Missy Elliot) isn’t – at this very moment – planning a tour with her hologram.
YOLO is dead, & Drake killed it.
Words by Tony Grands