Sure, Jay-Z brought out Beyonce at Coachella in 2010, and Kanye West gave festival goers his ballerina-assisted best with Bon Iver last year. But how many hip-hop headliners could resurrect Tupac Shakur from the dead? Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the G-funk maestros who provided Weekend 1 of Coachella with a thrilling outro on Sunday night (Apr. 15), took their joint performance to a new level when they were joined by Tupac — their fellow West Coast rapper who was killed in 1996 — in hologram form, sharing the stage with the digitally recreated rapper and letting his likeness rattle off “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” and “Gangsta Party” in the middle of their set.
Video: Tupac’s hologram performs at Coachella
The Tupac reveal was the high-tech, unique, admittedly strange highlight of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s West Coast homecoming, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of Dre’s “The Chronic” album later this year and the umpteenth delay of his enormously anticipated third album, “Detox.” While hip-hop fans still await the good Doctor’s studio return, Snoop and Dre touched upon their newer material by way of multiple guest stars.
Wiz Khalifa shared a giant blunt with Snoop while dropping by to perform their recent Hot 100 hit “Young, Wild & Free,” while Kendrick Lamar returned to the main stage two days after his own Coachella set to cook up “The Recipe,” his new single with Dre. 50 Cent and Tony Yayo bounced around the stage with a medley of “What Up Gangsta,” “P.I.M.P.” with Snoop and his Dre-produced classic “In Da Club,” while Eminem, Dre’s most successful protege, blasted through “I Need a Doctor” before trading stage positions with his mentor on “Forgot About Dre” and “Til I Collapse.”
Yet the bevy of high-profile guest MCs couldn’t detract from the real star of the show: the magnetic chemistry between the stone-faced Dr. Dre and lovably stoned Snoop Dogg. Whether leading the crowd through a cover of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” or trading bars on “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” the history that Dre and Snoop shared — and the deep bonds they had with the sunny state of California — pulsed through every head-knock and tossed-off hook. Snoop Dogg’s personal catalogue, including surefire singles “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” “Gin & Juice” and “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” was given a little more time in the spotlight, but when the long-reclusive Dre got going — as on tracks like “California Love” and “The Next Episode” — it made forgetting about Dre seem impossible.
Helping Dre and Snoop enrapture the crowd was a brilliantly designed stage setup, which included an ever-changing video screen in back of the duo’s full band and faux power lines turning the stage into its own miniature Compton. For “Still D.R.E.,” a percolating car tire and flashing neon lights kept the crowd bouncing; for “Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None),” black-and-white images of the recently deceased Nate Dogg actually turned the sex jam into a tender moment. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg deserved the rock the west side in style, and with an ornately designed backdrop aiding their hit parade, the hip-hop veterans more than did their home state justice.