For the first time in paperback comes this stunning collection of poems from one of the world's most revered rap artists. His talent was unbounded. His death was tragic. His legacy is indomitable. Here are Tupac's private thoughts, conveyed through the pure art of poetry and offers a glimpse into his enigmatic life and its intense contradictions. Written in his own hand at the age of 19 these poems embrace and express his spirit, passion, energy and intelligence.
About the Author
TUPAC SHAKUR was born in June 1971. At the age of 19 he released his first album, SEX PACKETS, with a band called Digital Underground. After one more DU record, he went solo, and the following five years were his most fruitful artistically. He released a number of classic records including 2Paccalypse Now and Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. In 1995, after recovering from being shot five times during a robbery, he released the two-million copy hit ME AGAINST THE WORLD, and followed that up with the double CD ALL EYEZ, which sold 3 million copies. Shakur also appeared in a number of films, including the Jon Singleton film, POETIC JUSTICE. In September 1996, Tupac Shakur was murdered in Las Vegas. He was 25 years old.
"The Rose that Grew from Concrete" is a posthumous collection of poetry by rapper Tupac Shakur, whose career in both the recording and motion picture industries was cut short when he was murdered at the age of 25. The book includes a preface by Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur; a foreword by poet Nikki Giovanni; and an introduction by Leila Steinberg, who acted as Tupac's manager. Afeni Shakur notes that the poems in this book were written from 1989-91. Steinberg recalls how Tupac shared poems in a writing circle that she hosted.
The poems appear in this book as photos of handwritten text, with the typed transcriptions on facing pages. This format, combined with some photos of the author, adds to the visual appeal of the book.
Tupac's poems are about love, friendship, loss, social protest, personal goals, and disappointment. His poems touch on many moods: sadness, ecstasy, anger, pride, and hope. Along the way he cites Nelson Mandela, Huey P. Newton, and other figures.
I was particularly struck by "Only 4 the Righteous," a witty and funny poem about rapping; this piece has a great rhyme and rhythm. "The Shining Star Within!," dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, and "Starry Night," dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh, are intriguing tributes to artists whom Tupac describes as ill-treated by society. "God" is a moving profession of faith. I was also moved by "Nothing Can Come Between us," a free verse poem on friendship. "Jada" is one of his best love poems ("u R my Heart in Human Form").
Overall, these poems seem to reveal many facets of the author. In "For Mrs. Hawkins," he writes "I'm a Panther / with the blood of Malcolm in my veins." Other poems look at racism and poverty. But he also writes about things like "First Date Jitters" (in "1st Impressions"). In "What Can I Offer Her?" his voice is full of longing and self-doubt; it is one of many poems that show an emotional vulnerability.
I'm not familiar with Tupac's rap and film work, so I may have approached these poems with fewer preconceptions than some readers. Overall, I think this is a valuable volume. Steinberg notes in her intro that she's used Tupac's writings as teaching tools; I believe that "The Rose That Grew from Concrete" could stimulate some solid classroom work.
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