Friday, April 20, 2012

To Live and Die in L.A.

In brainstorming for what I wanted to talk about for this blog post, I inevitably thought of the familiar east vs. west coast rivalry. (I'm from Boston, born and raised... don't mess). So as I was thinking about this, I remembered of course, Biggie and 2pac. This lead me to 2pac's song "To Live and Die in L.A." Besides being super smooth and a great song, the lyrics speak a lot to east coast/west coast dynamics as well as internal conflict in Los Angeles.

2pac talks a lot about how there's this weird combination of pursuit of wealth and fame and the glittery stuff of LA, but at the same time is incredibly dangerous and wrought with conflict. A particularly interesting verse to me is the third one I believe:

'cause would it be LA without Mexicans?
Black love brown pride and the sets again
Pete Wilson trying to see us all broke, I'm on some bullshit
Out for everything they owe, remember K-DAY
Weekends, Crenshaw -- MLK
Automatics rang free, guess we lost our way
Gang signs being showed, brother love your hood
But recognize that its all good

2pac gets at this sort of melting-pot L.A. has that really not everywhere in the United States does. While definitely alluding to gangs and gang violence, it also comes across to me as a commentary on how to respect differences within a really diverse location without turning it into rivalry. Pete Wilson, for the record (I did a little research) was the republican governor of California from 1991-1999 (during which time this song came out). He (Wilson) was not particularly popular with a lot of people, and this song, at least, seems to name him as a force working against the unity of the city of L.A.
Crenshaw and MLK are, as far as I can tell, both boulevards in Los Angeles. What I got from this verse was as opposed to showing pride for your community, that pride has turned into hostility towards others, which has made those streets not safe spaces to be anymore.

So, in short, its complicated. The aspects of diverse and interacting communities is exactly what makes Los Angeles wonderful and what it is, but also might be what tears it apart.

Also, this is incredibly pertinent, 2pac appeared IN HOLOGRAM FORM AT COACHELLA. I know, it is insane.

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