Tupac Performs at Coachella? Umm… Wha?

Joanna Schroeder feels Tupac Shakur’s appearance (as a hologram) at Coachella may have officially caused Coachella to jump the shark… Or maybe it made Coachella sort of awesome? Apparently she can’t decide which.

I feel really young. I mean, I’m in my mid-30s, but I still ride a skateboard regularly, I still wear a string bikini in public, and I don’t have to dye my hair… I feel like a kid most of the time.

But I am too damn old to sit in the blistering heat in the desert with a bunch of dirty people high on Ecstasy. People who paid $500 a ticket, nonetheless… I’m in the Four Seasons stage of my life, not the no-shower-for-four-days-and-make-out-with-strangers stage.

So I figured all those Coachella-goers clogging our freeways here in SoCal were in their early 20s. But no, apparently not.

This all occurred to me when I saw this video:

Yes, this is rap legend Tupac Shakur. Well, a hologram of rap legend Tupac Shakur. And it looks good, I’m not gonna lie.

But then I realized that Coachella must be full of people in their mid-30s like me! It has to be. I mean, I realize that young people know who Tupac is (though they probably don’t know who Biggie Smalls is), but would they care? These people are freaking out at hologram Tupac. I know I would (but then I would question the whole thing later, after the Ecstasy wore off). I mean, I even freaked out at the Yo Gabba Gabba stage show with my kids when Biz Markee starting singing, “Oh baby you… You got what I need…” And that’s just Biz Markee for God’s sake. Apparently I’m sentimental for the early 90s.

So Hologram-Tupac raises three questions I hope you guys will answer for me:

How old is too old to go to multi-day outdoor concerts?

How the hell did they get Tupac-hologram to say “Coachella?”

And, most importantly, does this holographic performance honor the late great artist, or exploit his memory?


PS I can’t help but relate this back to Oliver Lee Bateman’s post criticizing the blog “Things White People Like“… I assume both “Coachella” and “A Hologram of Tupac” are on that list.


Photo courtesy of emilydickinsonridesabmx

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. Also, this kind of struck an old idea of mine. Has anyone addressed the idea of being a “good man” in popular music (rap — there’s nothing else more polarizing or controversial) on this site? I think Pac and Eminem would be good places to start, they’re two of the most controversial yet misunderstood rappers out there.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    No one’s listening to me, but I’m telling you, this is how the machines will take over the world. Little by little, so gradually we don’t even notice. Robots building cars, robots as pets, robots used in surgery, vibrators in place of human parts, AI programs monitoring your credit purchases, computers as chess champions, and now holograms as cultural icons. Wake up, people, this is the thin end of the wedge….

  3. wellokaythen says:

    I see this as progress, as the start of a more nonviolent way to market hip-hop. Maybe the music industry can stir up another east coast vs. west coast pseudo-feud and get holograms to kill each other instead of real people getting killed. Less bloody that way, and you get to exploit the fake conflict indefinitely. (Even better, holograms don’t need to get paid, and they’ll never push for bigger contracts. No need to massage their egos by giving in to performers’ wild demands. Tupac will never get old and fat. Win-win all around for the music bizz.)

  4. His voice is a bit off but I guess that’s the result of whatever sythetic method of “generating” his voice (in fact I don’t even think that the parts where he was “singing” are replays of his actual rapping but creations of this synthesizer).

    I mean, I realize that young people know who Tupac is (though they probably don’t know who Biggie Smalls is),
    I’m not sure about that. Even though Biggie isn’t all up in everyone’s face like Tupac is I do think that young people got just enough of a taste of him that they know him (bear in mind that like Tupac, for a long time after his death Biggie’s unreleased recordings popped up in the tracks of other rappers).

    Now as for the hologram. I’ve watched a lot of Japanese anime in day so this really doesn’t shock me. In fact in Japan right now you can see that between robotics, artificial intellegence, and the occasional hologram they are closing in on creating pop idols from nothing.

    This hologram of Tupac was of a world famous rapper that died before his time (well depending on how you thought about the way he lived you may say he got what he deserved). Go check out a title by the name of Macross Plus, where a hologram artist is based on nothing but her producer’s actual voice and she becomes an interplanetary sensation. Oh and J.E.M.

    Sharon Apple….

  5. Drew Gardiner says:

    I am 32 and still and will remain a fervent outdoor concert lover. I must admit, I have asked myself the same questions whether I am too old but the somehow nostalgic feelings of going to outdoor festivals in my teen and 20s always are addictive and keep me coming back. There is nothing better than seeing your favourite bands live and doing so in a energetic and positive atmosphere (the ectasy probably adds to this!) surrounded by good friends. I hope to be doing this well into my 50s!

    All this being said, the druken, drug induced ravagings of the younger generations do sometimes hinder my festival experience. when will they create the 30 or 40+ festivals? or maybe just a tent inside the festival open to the older generation?

    • I dunno, my mom actually somewhat likes the whole festival atmosphere. She took me to a Bob Weir concert when I was 12 and she was approaching 50, and even though the place reeked of weed and most people were in some way intoxicated, we were sober and loving it. Isn’t the drug induced fun part of the experience?

  6. I was watching the live stream and when I saw this I thought, “Oh its a video.” Then I thought, “Oh it’s a look alike.” And then I had no idea what the hell was going on and freaked out for a good 30 seconds. But it was still an incredible performance, and Tupac clearly stated his desire to be remembered and loved for future generations (How long will they mourn me). It appeared to be a one-time tribute, and so long as it doesn’t become commercialized I think it was fitting and touching. And his mother, Afeni Shakur, signed off on it too.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Awesome feedback, Kaleb!

      I like the idea that Tupac would’ve probably thought it was an awesome way to memorialize him.

      But yeah, if they start making hologram-Tupac sell Pepsi, I might freak out.

      • Lots of young people know who Big and Pac are in fact just in general most people know about Big and Pac they were 2 of the most influential artists of all time not just in the hip hop scene, plus with the films about their lives that have been released relatively recently even more people have heard of them. How exactly must the people who were their have been in their mid 30’s because they freaked out over a Tupac hologram?? Would they care about Tupac, yes they would people idolize the guy young and old alike, he wasn’t just a rapper he was a visionary and a poet. They got him to say Coachella with some recording trickery apparently, if you want to go to a concert when your 90 never mind mid 30’s then go if your worried about what people think then you really shouldn’t and I think the hologram was cool and is a good way for people to be able to still see their favourite artists they are talking about doing a worldwide tour with the hologram which I would want to see. Also your post irritated me it didn’t make sense overly but I am a serious Tupac fan so maybe that’s why or your just not a very good writer either way I’m sure you could car less. Oh and BTW white,black, asian, mixed race, alien . whatever should have this on a list of things they like because Tupac rocks .. thanykou ..

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