On Days 1 and 2 of the Rock the Bells hip-hop festival, which took place this past weekend in San Bernadino, Calif., two surprise performers stole the show from all the other artists, and they did so without appearing in the flesh.
Similar to last year's Tupac hologram performance at Coachella alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, deceased rappers Eazy-E and Ol' Dirty Bastard were given the hologram treatment, performing with their former groups, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Wu-Tang Clan respectively, according to Billboard.
Though Eazy-E was never an official member of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, he discovered them and signed them to their first deal. Eazy-E's hologram appeared near the end of their set.
On what would've been his 50th birthday, the N.W.A. leader's digital reincarnation casually appeared asking, "What's up L.A.?" The voiceover sent the crowd into a tense, albeit excited round of applause — if at times uncomfortable and jittery. He launched into "Boyz In the Hood" and ended with "Straight Out of Compton."
On Day 2, it was Ol' Dirty Bastard's turn (or, at least, his hologram's turn) to entertain the crowd, and he also arguably saved the Wu-Tang Clan's set from becoming a disaster.
Thankfully, the hologram showed up just in time, giving a much needed jolt to fans, all holding open cell phones. Unlike Eazy-E the night before, ODB played to a slightly smaller crowd, and although he's been dead for nearly a decade, the mini-set featuring "Shame on a Ni—a" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," was eerily close to his likeness.
The Rock the Bells Festival will make several more stops around the country. It will be in San Francisco next, then Washington, D.C., and conclude in New York City.
Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at VerySmartBrothas.com and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.