Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Rose That Grew From Concrete

The Rose That Grew From Concrete

Bibliographic Information:

Shakur, T. (2006). The Rose That Grew From Concrete. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN: 9780671028459.


For Mrs. Hawkins -- In Memory of Yusef Hawkins

This poem is addressed 2 Mrs. Hawkins
Who lost her son 2 a racist society
I'm not out 2 offend the positive souls
Only the racist dogs who lied to me
An American culture plagued with nights
like the night Yusef was killed
if it were reversed it would be the work
of a savage but this white killer was just strong-willed
But Mrs. Hawkins as sure as I'm a Panther
with the blood of Malcolm in my veins
America will never rest
if Yusef dies in vain!
-page 107

In The Event Of My Demise

In the event of my demise
when my heart can beat no more
I hope I die for a principle
Or a belief that I had lived 4
I will die before my time
Because I feel the shadow's depth
So much I wanted to accomplish
Before I reached my death
I have come to grips with the possibility
And wiped the last tears from my eyes
I loved all who were positive
In the event of my demise.

You don't see any senior take-offs of his art. No garden parties with grandma bopping up to Something 2 Die 4. So, they found a name, Gangsta Rap, to somehow distinguish it from what? Polite, nice, highly compromised rap? They tried to isolate that beautiful boy who was trying to bring on the truth so that they could flood us with lies and excuses. -Nikki Giovani XV

Plot Summary:

A collection of poetry written by rapper Tupac Shakur between 1989 and 1991.

Critical Analysis:

The Rose That Grew From Concrete is a collection of four series of poems that rapper Tupac Shakur wrote from 1989 and 1991. He wrote them during a creative writing experience that he had with a UC Berkeley professor, Leila Steinburg, who would then go on to become his manager. The book of poetry also comes complete with several forwards from his manager, mother Afeni Shakur who was also a poet and activist, and the female, African-American poet, Nikki Giovanni. Reading those three forewards prior to enjoying this book of poetry several times is pivotal.

I included an excerpt of Giovanni's foreward as an example. As the forewards and poetry suggest, and after little web crawling will prove, Tupac was an incredibly interested and motivated intellect with a passion for all forms of culture and the arts. He was also a black man growing up in a single parent household, and grew up in poverty in Harlem, NY. But, as the poetry suggests, his circumstances did not break his spirit. Anyhow, much like the forewards and media evidence suggests Tupac was marginalized and then commercialized as being a violent, malevolent gangster. But, that is hardly the case. Though, he was a black man that considered himself a member of the Black Panther Organization which is an easy, and marketable target.

Anyhow, there are three series of poetry: The Rose That Grew From Concrete, Nothing Can Come Between Us, Just A Breath Of Freedom, and Liberty Needs A Glass. The first collection touches on issues of family, growing up in poverty, love, and friendship. Those poems are the most novice and a great example of an outsider poet. The thing is that Tupac does not try to impress the reader with flowery cliches or trite alliterations, but instead is very simple and honest in his word choices. I think the first series is a great example of Tupac blossoming as an aspiring poet.

The second collection, Nothing Can Come Between Us, is mostly made up of love poems to assumed partners, friends, and a miscarried child. Note, Tupac was 18 when these were written. This series contains the most ideographs which mostly consist of hearts and eyes. Once more, he was 18! I would hate for my corny 18 year old love poetry to ever be read less alone released. I could not help but take that in to consideration.

The last two series Just A Breath Of Freedom and Liberty Needs A Glass are absolutely beautiful and awe inspiring. Here, Tupac has a better grasp on poetic language and you can tell that he is more confident and going outside of his previously safer comfort levels. These collections are also a lot grittier touching on issues such as hate/race crimes, being a Black Panther, poverty, and then later on, the ominous prediction of an early death potentially due to the issues just mentioned. Tupac also hopes that he does not die in vain which is eloquently put in his last poem, In the Event of My Demise, Dedicated 2 Those Curious.

I strongly urge all to read this book whether they happen to be a poetry aficionado or not. Tupac shares a very unique and though sad at times, he is hopeful for the future. This book is an example of a beautiful and compassionate mind that can hopefully be appreciated by everyone regardless of demograph, socioeconomic class, age, or gender.

This is officially one of my favorite things to read. Its filled with so much reality, passion, breath taking. I have always been a fan of 2pac and it really does have you thinking alot about the struggles people face even if you have been in similar situations. You guys need to purchase this book. You wont be disappointed. Inspiring and breath taking. -Outthere22, A Reader's Review

A collection of poetry written by the rapper between 1989 and 1991, before he became famous. The poems are passionate, sometimes angry, and often compelling. Selections are reproduced from the originals in Shakur's handwriting, personalized by distinctive spelling and the use of ideographs (a drawing of an eye for I, etc.), and complete with scratch outs and corrections. With the exception of "In the Event of My Demise," all of the pieces are accompanied by typed text, which leaves his spelling intact. Some poems are also accompanied by his drawings. A few black-and-white photographs appear throughout. A preface by Shakur's mother, a foreword by Nikki Giovanni, and an introduction by his manager, Leila Steinburg, in whose writing group the poems were written, complete this unique volume. -School Library Journal

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