It wouldn’t be L.A. without Mexicans.
This lyric from Tupac Shakur’s song, “To Live and Die in L.A.,” is arguably more resonant now than it was 20 years ago. Not in a gubernatorial sense, an artistic sense, or a census, but because some of the people that own this ethnic heritage and contribute a substantial aspect to L.A. identity have come under threat by the US’s newly appointed Boys Club, and the city and state, despite threats of funding yanks from the Department of Justice, has swollen with defiance.
In true Flaunt spirit, and in the spirit of the new Tupac biopic, All Eyez On Me, we thought the moment right to bring to life one of the city’s most polemic and influential figures. Not only by creating a cover with an unpublished image of his “crucifixion” photographed by David LaChapelle, snapped shortly before the rapper’s death, but also through the commissioning of L.A. tattoo star, Mister Cartoon, a Mexican-American, to reinterpret one of Tupac’s tattoos, found here, along with a feature on the film’s key cast (page 184).
So why, in the current climate, eulogize decades later a bad boy, a vocal advocate of violence, and someone considered dangerous to the community? Well, it’s rather simple. Tupac had an original voice, a point of view, and an attitude: all intrinsic values of Flaunt, and critical for resisting a white-washing establishment.
It was also pretty heartbreaking to see this unique vision go at such a young age. And as we watched the election and the immediate raids and polarized rhetoric fan outward, heartbreak was a reaction we witnessed in a lot of people, accordingly becoming our working issue theme. This examination went well beyond the obvious one-to-one experience of love lost: heartbreak in the animal kingdom (page 286), heartbreak in art house film death scenes (page 214), heartbreak in iconic L.A. music venue green rooms (page 58). As well, we consider throughout the role of loss in song making, and why for whatever reason, we need those sad songs to carry onward.
In our other cover story, also photographed by David LaChapelle but only a few weeks ago, we explore sadness and heartbreak as myth with singer Lana Del Rey (page 200), who reminds us about the importance of “keeping the lights on and staying vigilant” in the face of oppressive diction and policymaking.
In the end, we settled on the moniker The Cadence Issue: Arrhythmias. For without a heartbeat, you’re nothing. And without music, you’re boring. Life is full of arrhythmias, irregularities, clotting, and attacks, but I promise you this, we’ll burn this bitch down, get us pissed... to live and die in L.A.
Enjoy and keep thumping,