The "virtual" Eazy-E is slated to perform with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and the "virtual" ODB will grace the stage with the Wu-Tang Clan.
Though the announcement has generated tons of excitement amongst artists and fans alike, Eazy-E's longtime manager, friend, and Ruthless Record business partner, Jerry Heller, doesn't share the same enthusiasm.
"I think that using a hologram of an artist that has passed away to sell concert tickets smacks exploitation in its most exploitive form," Heller told Arena.com over the phone, who slowly articulated and chose his words carefully.
Nevertheless, the show will go as scheduled as the former N.W.A. leader's family signed off for the hologram.
In this Arena.com exclusive, Heller respectfully goes more in depth on his view concerning the Eazy-E hologram, where, if at all, he would prefer seeing the hologram in question, and his hopes of seeing N.W.A. in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Arena.com: Some people really enjoyed seeing the Tupac Shakur hologram at Coachella 2012, and some people were perplexed by it. But the overall consensus, from what I've heard, is that people think it was pretty cool, and there seems to be the same excitement for the Eazy-E hologram. That said, I wanted to get your thoughts on Eazy-E being resurrected at Rock The Bells--
Jerry Heller: Ok, well that's good because I'm gonna give you the opposite side of the coin, ok?
Arena.com: Please do.
Jerry Heller: I personally don't like the hologram kind of approach. It sorta feels to me like some people feel about cloning, ok, and I think that it's exploitation at its most extreme form and while I admire the technical aspects of it, I think it personally would be very upsetting to me to see a hologram of Eazy-E performing in concert. It sorta smacks of exploitation to my delicate sensitivities. So that's my opinion on the hologram, and I know that the issue will be split and that most of the people are real excited about it. I personally am not.
Arena.com: But do you think by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony doing this, that maybe more people will learn and appreciate Eazy-E's legacy, especially those who might not be totally familiar with it?
Jerry Heller: Well, if someone was to do this, as a one time event say the induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame or the Grammys, or the Academy Awards as just a one time kinda thing, then yeah, I think it's respectful and cool, and -- but don't misquote me now -- I admire the technology behind the hologram. That doesn't mean that I actually like holograms, but I do admire the technology of it. Ya know, I think you mentioned Bone Thugs-N-Harmony?
Jerry Heller: They don't play before enough people that it would make a difference to Eazy-E's legacy. I think that his body of work, along with the N.W.A. body of work and certainly the Dr. Dre body of work, have established his legacy, along with my book (Ruthless: A Memoir). I don't think that the few people that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are gonna play before are gonna change his legacy at all, and I think that whoever is gonna use it now, name and likeness, I just think it seems, to me, to be exploitation and I think that actually it cheapens his image rather than enhances it.
Arena.com: Speaking of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, how long do you think it will be until N.W.A. could possibly be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
Jerry Heller: I think N.W.A. with Eazy-E as a member will be inducted next year. [That] would be my guess, and I think the only reason Public Enemy got in ahead of them ... not that they don't deserve to be in, because I think that they [are the] two most important gangsta rap groups, [and] political with Public Enemy. I've gone on record with this a million times, and sociologically, Eazy-E and NWA, I think they would have been inducted this year, but had no one lobbying for them. I think Public Enemy had an organized lobby and, ya know, that really helps. So I think N.W.A. probably would be inducted into the [Rock And Roll] Hall Of Fame next year. That would be my guess, and they would get my vote. They got my vote this year.
Arena.com: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the Eazy-E hologram that you might not have already said?
Jerry Heller: My records and my book certainly stands for itself, so ya know, this doesn't make me happy, and like I say, unless they were doing it to give him a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys or something like that, then it's not something that I personally would condone or get behind. But I'm not making those decisions and he has, ya know, he has people that are making those decisions and look, their decisions are as good as mine or anyone else's. All I can tell you is what my opinion is.
* Check back soon as we post a full-length featured interview with Jerry Heller.