ARHT Media has landed the digital rights to Notorious B.I.G.‘s hologram. The partnership between the Los Angeles-based company and ByStorm Entertainment, who handles the late rapper’s estate alongside singer Faith Evans and Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace, will helm the technology for the so-called “Humagram” of Christopher Wallace to perform in various capacities including on-stage delivery and music videos.
Over the course of nine months, ARHT Media founder Rene Bharti was introduced to Wayne Barrow (ByStorm Entertainment president) as well as his partner, president of urban music for RCA and CEO of ByStorm Entertainment, Mark Pitts. “They’ve seen all the competitors. Wayne Barrow has been looking all over the world for the right company to do this hologram,” explains Bharti to Billboard. “When it comes to [working with] someone who used to be your friend and working with their mother, you want to do it right. As soon as he came into our L.A. studio, after a couple of months of going back and forth, he said right away, I’m gonna go with you guys.”
What sold Biggie’s family and estate was ARHT Media’s — “ARHT” stands for Augmented Reality Holographic Technology — innovative patented technology that begins with “the creation of a digital human, being it living, deceased in this case or even fictional,” says CEO Paul Duffy. “We have a very sophisticated transmission technology for beaming these digital humans through the public Internet to literally any point on the planet. These digital humans can scale to any size of venue so it can be in a window display, your living room or it could be in a 50,000-seat arena for a real-time delivery and display of this human hologram, that we call “Humagrams.””
The game-changing technology is also easy to throw “in the back of a uHaul truck, and set up and break down within an hour,” Bharti adds, noting the edge over the competitors like Hologram USA. “This project has been a long-time coming, and it is very special to me,” says Ms. Wallace. “Words can’t even capture how elated I am for the world to finally see my son again on stage and beyond. Christopher’s impact and legacy will not only live through his past work, but also the new experiences which have been made possible through ARHT Media.”
The first order of business for the Biggie Humagram is a music video appearance for the first single off Faith Evans’ duets compilation titled The King & I. Last month, the Brooklyn MC’s former wife revealed on Dame Dash’s radio show that a potential hologram tour was in the works, which Bharti confirms. “What we’re gonna start with is a video with the first single from The King & I then I think Faith wants to do a little tour,” he says. While he did not offer specific tour details, B.I.G.’s Bad Boy family, led by Puff Daddy, are set to perform a sold-out “One Night Only” show in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on May 20, Biggie’s birthday. (On Monday, April 11, Diddy also announced a second Bad Boy show in Brooklyn with the hashtag #BADBOYFamilyReunionTour, teasing a possible trek.)
“After seeing all the technologies out there, I realized right away that ARHT Media would be the best partner to bring back Notorious B.I.G.,” Faith Evans says. “I look forward to continue working with them and presenting the world with his Humagram in both video and stage format, through the release of my album The King & I.”
ARHT Media has heralded other holograms in the past, including motivational speaker Tony Robbins’ four-day speaking engagement across the globe. From Florida to Melbourne, Australia, his likeness was beamed into a venue where his “Humagram” interacted with the audience and fielded questions. ARHT Media also prided themselves on recenly “beaming someone in” from L.A. to China. “We beamed someone in, which is probably the hardest test to do, from L.A. into China and you can imagine, getting Internet in China is sometimes difficult,” recalls Bharti, without naming a specific individual. “[The hologram] was a huge success with all the government officials.”
When it comes to pinning down Biggie’s mannerisms in holographic form, Duffy and Bharti don’t foresee any challenges as they continue to work on the design alongside his family and estate. “We’ll use input from virtually anywhere so we’ll talk to people, we’ll obviously look through existing footage,” details Duffy. “We’ll meet with family members and just look to alternately capture the essence of Biggie. Then we’ll have their eyes on all the content and material that’s being built. Of course, nothing would be released until they felt comfortable and signed off on it.”
“I would say this is our first foray into entertainment,” adds Bharti, who also worked with team apparel purveyor Mitchell & Ness for pop-up holographic stores throughout Toronto earlier this year for NBA All-Star weekend. “This one’s very special for us because everyone’s been clamoring to get to Notorious B.I.G. but it’s one, we all as a company agreed, that if we’re gonna do this, this would be a great guy to work with and the family’s been wonderful and the estate’s been great. We’re looking forward to showcasing this within the next couple of months.” ?