“I have always been a very spiritual woman, I think we all have different heaven’s. Mine will probably be me re-living my life over” – Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
On April 25, 2002, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died in La Ceiba, Honduras at the age of 30 due to injuries sustained in a fatal car accident. As one third of seminal R&B group TLC, Lopes left behind a legacy of empowering not only women, but people from all walks of life due to her personal struggles and tainted past.
While many still mourn the death of the enigmatic Lopes, whose stage presence was as infectious as her raps, the 10th anniversary of her untimely death has prompted her former band mates, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins to “Have already booked shows in five major cities, with the aim being to utilize Lopes by projecting her image on a big screen and working her vocals into the live performances,” according to Consequence of Sound. This news also came with the announcement that VH1 will be producing a TLC biopic, and Thomas and Watkins will release a new album, their first musical endeavor without any input from Lopes.
Formed in 1990, the adventurous and always seemingly mischievous Lopes who had moved to Atlanta with only a keyboard and US$750, was the first member of the ‘current’ TLC line-up, initially dubbed 2nd Nature by original founder Crystal Jones who was replaced by Thomas in the band’s early stages. The fresh-faced all-girl trio, rounded out by Watkins released their debut in 1992, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, to highly positive reviews. However it wasn’t until the release of 1994′s CrazySexyCool and follow up FanMail that they truly found global mainstream success.
Each member of TLC was known for their unique vocal abilities, Watkins, for her funk tones, Thomas for her smooth R&B sexuality and dance moves and Lopes for her contrasting and engaging hip-hop, rapping style, usually with feminist undertones. While Thomas served as an unofficial front woman for the band, it was Lopes who was the creative force behind the group’s empowering anthems, most notably penning the memorable verses from “Waterfalls,” “No Scrubs,” “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg,” and “Girl Talk.”
However, with the announcement of Left Eye’s ‘resurrection’ so to speak, I have found myself not only completely enthralled by the technological advancement, but also shocked by people’s overtly positive responses to it. While I have no problem honouring the dead, there must be a better way to cement someone’s legacy than to eerily ‘bring them back to life’ with modern technology. Inevitably, at some stage, there has to be a line drawn as to where this is going to stop.
Are people going to pay to see a Michael Jackson hologram performing on its own in a packed arena, or is this awkward interplay between the living and those ‘risen from the dead’ an integral part of making this technology work? The creator of the Tupac hologram has stated to NME he wants to pair Elvis with Justin Bieber (WTF?!) FYI just because someone is dead doesn’t mean you can dictate who they perform with.
I am by no means against this incredible advancement in technology, but if you can’t see an artist when they are alive, in the flesh, especially someone you adore and respect for their otherworldly talent, doesn’t it defeat the purpose of seeing live music? And ultimately, doesn’t it make the experience feel less real, a sub-par version of the real deal. Sure it’s super cool, and nifty but are you really experiencing this incredible creative force, or just someone else’s manifested interpretation? Is this making idols too tangible to the masses?
Even after the Tupac hologram at Coachella only two weeks ago, it already doesn’t feel special, and shouldn’t you want to feel a sense of longing and nostalgia for those who have passed? I know I do. I’ll stick to singing “No Scrubs,” to boys who have done the dirty on me at karaoke with my girls, a pair of ‘condom shades‘ and Left Eye in my heart and memory, not on a projector.