Rock the Bells Organizer Hints at Biggie, Big Pun Holograms

FUSE TV - Rock the Bells Organizer Hints at Biggie, Big Pun Holograms

I'm ostensibly talking to Chang Weisberg, the hip hop impresario behind annual summer festivals Rock the Bells and Paid Dues, about the recent announcement of this year's Rock the Bells lineup, which includes Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt and E-40 & Too Short.

But really, the only rappers on anyone's mind are Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E, gone in corporeal form but alive, well and performing at this year's festival as "original virtual performances" alongside Wu-Tang Clan and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

"We want to put on a show that may never ever happen again," Weisberg tells Fuse of the performances. Inspired by Tupac's re-emergence at last year's Coachella, Weisberg is planning "months of pre-production and lots of rehearsals," working with RZA, ODB's mother Cherry Jones, Eazy-E's widow Tomica Wright and Bone Thugs on the upcoming shows.

Weisberg spoke to Fuse about building off Tupac-ogram, the process of creating two avatars and why Eazy-E and ODB may not be the only deceased rappers to appear at the festival.

When did you first have the idea for Eazy-E and ODB's performances?

What initially sparked my interest was Gorillaz’ performance at the Grammys. I’m a huge fan and I’ve been chasing them down for a couple of years and that started my curiosity, but it wasn’t until I saw what Dr. Dre had pulled off at Coachella that just had me dumbfounded. Literally during the performance the first weekend, my BlackBerry was inundated with, “Oh my God, Chang! You’re going to be doing this at Rock the Bells!” I was so jaw-dropped and impressed by the Tupac performance; it was one of the ultimate hip hop performances I’ve seen in my life. I was sitting with [Coachella Founder] Paul Tollett and Dr. Dre’s family and I think I ran 20 feet to the left, then 20 feet to the right.

Were ODB and Eazy-E your first two choices?

I’ve worked with Wu-Tang Clan the last 10 years; I’m part of the team and they treat me like a partner. ODB’s last performance was our first festival. Since the Tupac phenomenon intrigued RZA and the rest of the members, they entrusted me and ODB was the number one opportunity because of that relationship.  Last year, Bone Thugs entrusted Guerilla Union with all five members reuniting. Through that process, I became so close with them, that the conversation—and I’ll put this out to you—are you aware of some of the musical history for Bone Thugs?

In terms of their connection to Eazy-E?

With multiple artists. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is the only group to have recorded music with Eazy-E, Tupac, Biggie and Big Pun. So, they’re a natural amazing well if you’re thinking about producing something like what we saw at Coachella.

Are you suggesting we may see other holograms besides Eazy-E and ODB?

I’m suggesting that right now, I am doing everything I can to make Cherry Jones and Tomica Wright give me approval. Once they say, “Chang, I’m good with this,” then sky’s the limit because I’m having lots of conversations right now. You asked me why did I pick these two icons? Well, I kinda feel they picked me. But those are very specific reasons why working with Bone Thugs, Tomica Wright and Eazy-E makes such logical sense.

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