April 13, 2012


In Defense of the Nate Dogg Coachella Hologram

Frazer Harrison
Frazer Harrison

[Editor's note: Well, it turns out that the Nate Dogg hologram didn't appear onstage at Coachella, but the Tupac hologram did. Fuse has video of Tupac's hologram performing with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.]

For the past two days I’ve been watching Facebook as lifelong pals, colleagues and those totally random friends (we all have them—but who are you?) just rip apart a curious bit of news: For their fest-closing headlining set at Coachella this Sunday night and next, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre will reportedly be bringing Nate Dogg and (now, it’s reported) Tupac on stage. You read that right: Their two fallen homies will be revived, via the same hologram technology that projected Mariah Carey across the globe last Christmas, to share in Snoop and Dre’s conquering of the Cali desert.

Reactions have been varied: I’ve seen “Silly awesome,” “depressing,” “Wish I was gonna be there” and “atrocity” all in one FB news feed. But most of the comments, it appears, are negative. Why, people? Why?

First of all, this is Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, not Radiohead. This is the same Snoop Dogg who once hosted Wrestle Mania, appeared in a movie called The Wash and had a TV show called Doggy Fizzle Televizzle. These guys aren’t above a little fun, and, really, why be so damn grave about the whole thing? Tupac and Nate Dogg are dead. Let’s celebrate their lives and music, not cry about it again. These are the people that knew them best. These are their homies. They went to high school together. In Nate Dogg’s case, they’re family (he and Snoop are cousins). So if they’re cool with kicking it onstage with a hologram version of Nate Dogg or Tupac, while hundreds of thousands of people party, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Also, remember: This is a crowning moment for the crew that started SoCal gangsta rap over 20 years ago. They’re bringing out all their pals, including, reportedly, Dazz Dillinger and Kurupt (aka Tha Dogg Pound), and Warren G. The real Gs. This is California’s biggest stage and ain’t no one getting’ left behind for this party, even if they’re in the grave. 

The reports of Tupac’s hologram are newer, and I imagine “he’ll” appear for a short tribute of tracks, presumably including a sure to be wild rendition of "California Love," naturally. But it’s Nate Dogg that interests me. The man born Nathaniel Dwayne Hale gave a baller’s smooth touch to gangsta-hard pistol jams from Tupac to Ludacris to Eminem. He was the velvety hook to so many of the crew's hits; he was an integral part of their collective catalogue, from The Chronic to Doggystyle to The Chronic 2001, and beyond. Without Nate Dogg, in one form or another, the Coachella sets could get awful... awkward. 

And I vividly remember seeing him perform in the flesh.

It was the original Up in Smoke Tour in Seattle in 2001. The whole crew was on hand to open the Experience Music Project (alongside Metallica; the crowd was interesting to say the least—ever seen a Hell’s Angel share a joint with a Crip? I have). 

I worked my way to the front, stage left, and was straight mesmerized when Snoop and Dre hit the stage in rhythm with the rumbling bass of “Next Episode.” Their excitement onstage was infectious; these dudes were having a ball. Eminem was twirling a towel ceaselessly; Kurupt was smiling ear to ear (what a smile!). And when the bass dropped at the end of that track, Nate Dogg paced to the front of the stage in a long silk jacket and top hat:

“Hold up, heyyyyyyy / All my ni**as that thinking we soft, we don’t play / We gonna rock it ‘til the wheels fall off / Hope you’re ready for the next episode.”

Then, of course, “Smoke weed everyday.”

At Coachella, when those words are delivered via a hologram Nate Dogg, it will be a legendary moment in stoner history. I hope Snoop tries to pass him the blunt.

Music writer Alex Pappademas wrote a moving tribute to Nate Dogg last year in the New York Times, following the singer’s death from heart failure in March. Pappademas wrote that Nate Dogg was “the straw that stirred the gin ’n’ juice.” True that. 

So be as skeptical as you want. But I can’t wait to fly out to Los Angeles on Monday, then head to Coachella on Thursday. I’ll see tons of shows Friday and Saturday, but really I’ll be waiting for Snoop and Dre’s headlining set Sunday night. That’s when the party will really start. And when it’s over, I’m confident that droves of Coachella concertgoers will return home with stories of how the hologram Nate Dogg straight blew-blew-blew their minds.