Virtual Eazy-E, Ol Dirty Bastard to perform at Rock the Bells
CNN News Wire | 5/15/2013, 5 p.m.
As Ol' Dirty Bastard rhymes in "Brooklyn Zoo II," "When you take north, east, west, south/and put it all together and it spell newwwwws!"
Know what else spell(s) news? A star-powered hip-hop festival announcing that two rap legends -- not figurative legends, mind you; one's been dead eight years, the other 18 -- will perform this fall.
Rock the Bells announced Wednesday that Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E (aka Russell Jones and Eric Wright) will take the stage during the festival's 10th anniversary performances.
ODB will perform with his former group, Wu-Tang Clan, while Eazy-E will join his old pals from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
How, you're asking, might Ol' Dirty shimmy shimmy ya onto the stage when he died of a drug reaction in a New York recording studio in 2004? And didn't Eazy die of AIDS complications in 1995?
Indeed, but there won't be any seances. The two will appear as virtual images -- not holograms. It will be more along the lines of Tupac Shakur's performance last year at Coachella, and less like Obi-Wan or Jessica Yellin.
The latter, of course, were holograms, while 'Pac appeared on stage with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre via a stage technique called Pepper's Ghost that dates to the 16th century. (Ars Technica explains how the optical illusion works.)
Guerilla Union founder Chang Weisberg, whose organization pulls together Rock the Bells, explained to Vibe magazine that the Tupac performance was the inspiration for this year's resurrection of Eazy and Dirt McGirt.
Weisberg told Vibe that when 'Pac began performing "Hail Mary" at Coachella, he was entranced.
Likewise, ODB's mom, Cherry Jones, told Rolling Stone that she was amazed to see her son brought back to life, so to speak.
"Last night was the first time I saw it, and to me, it was so wonderful to stand by him again," she told the magazine. "I don't know how I'm going to react - they'll have to carry me off, but I think it's amazing. I want to sing with it."
She added, "This keeps the artists alive. Dirty was a great artist onstage. This is going to be something else, because he was really great onstage. ... I just want to see the look on his sister and brother's face, his children, grandchildren."
Eazy's widow, Tomica Wright, was similarly excited, telling the magazine, "To have old generations, new generations be able to experience that chemistry between ODB and Eazy and Bones -- you see it on video, you see it on the Internet, but to feel it and have that sense of presence is a great experience."
Rock the Bells has four shows slated for the tour thus far, beginning in September with a stop in San Bernardino, California. The festival, known for drawing a broad range of hip-hop acts, will also include performances by Black Hippy, Common, E-40 & Too Short, Tyler the Creator, Jurassic 5, Rakim and Talib Kweli.
It's safe to assume none of them wants to follow ODB.
Eliott C. McLaughlin | CNN