Image Courtesy of Goodreads.com
His talent was unbounded — a raw force that commanded attention and respect.
His death was tragic — a violent homage to the power of his voice.
His legacy is indomitable — as vibrant and alive today as it has ever been.
Tupac Shakur’s most intimate and honest thoughts were uncovered only after his death with the instant classic The Rose That Grew from Concrete.
For the first time in paperback, this collection of deeply personal poetry is a mirror into the legendary artist’s enigmatic world and its many contradictions.
Written in his own hand from the time he was nineteen, these seventy-two poems embrace his spirit, his energy — and his ultimate message of hope.
Cover Gushing Worthiness: What I like about the cover of this poetry collection is Tupac is the cover. I think this is one of my favourite pictures of the Rapper because he’s looking right at you. It’s almost like he wants you to read his poetry and have a conversation about it. I also like the fact that it’s Black & White. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a cover without full colour.
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
Because I feel the shadow’s Depth
I have come 2 grips with the possibility
and wiped the last tear from my eyes
I Loved All Who Were Positive
IN the event of my Demise!
Tupac Shakur was easily one of the greatest Hip Hop artists to ever grace the genre. His music was raw and honest; it inspired an entire generation of youngsters who felt alone and cheated by the system. The same thing can be said about Tupac’s poetry. The Rose That Grew from Concrete (TRTGfC) is a collection of 72 poems written by the rapper between the ages of 19 and 22. It contains a wide range of poems, from those about love, pain and death, to government assistance, liberty, drugs and freedom. With a beautiful forward by acclaimed poet Niki Giovanni, The Rose That Grew from Concrete is a window into the soul of a different Tupac Shakur, than the picture painted by the media. This young man was self-aware , sensitive, loving and above all filled with hope for a better tomorrow.
I have to admit that I had to be educated on Tupac’s music this year. Prior to becoming familiar with his music, I had seen a lot of his quotes and I knew that he was probably one of the smartest people to ever exist on this planet. Then my roommate and I spent a night jamming to Tupac’s music and after that I was hooked. So that was my introduction to Tupac- the award-winning artist. However his poetry collection was my introduction to Tupac, before he became a sensation.
For a person with zero interest in poetry, I devoured TRIGfc in two days. I couldn’t stop reading Tupac’s words; they were beautiful, sad, bitter, angry, and at the same time filled with hope and love. The frankness of Tupac’s poetry is heartbreaking because no person, regardless of race, gender, young or old, should ever have to experience the suffering Tupac speaks about. For all the sadness in TRTGfC, there are livelier and romantic elements such as the poems the rapper wrote to the many loves of his life, which had me squealing like a teenage girl. Tupac just made me raise my standards for men; to potential significant others- you need to be able to write poetry like Tupac. That’s one of my conditions:P… except not really because it would be pretty hypocritical of me to ask someone to write poetry for me when I can’t even write poetry for myself. My temporary weakness aside, what grabbed my attention were the poems dedicated to Nelson Mandela, Afeni Shakur (Tupac’s mother), his unborn child as well as those addressing racism, inequality, classism and fame. The poems “Government Assistance or My Soul,” “Ur Ripping Us Apart!!!,” “Liberty Needs Glasses” and “The Promise” are poems that spoke to me because social justice is something that I’m passionate about. With everything that is going on in the world from the shooting of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin to what is happening in Gaza and Iraq, I think Tupac’s poetry is more relevant than ever. To hear Tupac as a 19-year-old talk about all of these social justice issues is inspiring on its own. However, for all the respect and love I have for Tupac’s poetry, what was most disheartening to read was the poem In The Event Of My Demise. As I read the poem, I felt as if Tupac had created his own self-fulfilling prophecy and it had come true.
Apart from the wonderful and emotional poetry in TRTGfC, an interesting aspect of the collection is its layout. The pages on the left contain the handwritten version of the poem and the right has a typed version. Personally I recommend reading the handwritten poem because there is a greater emotional impact and it is a glimpse into Tupac’s creativity with poetry. He would use symbols to represent words or he’d draw images to affirm his opinion.
And 2morrow I wake with second wind
And strong because of pride
2 know I fought with all my heart 2 keep my dream alive
This has been said time and time again and I’m going to echo the sentiment: Tupac Shakur was truly a man before his time. While the millennial generation was unable to experience his music and strong voice, through his poetry there is an opportunity to understand who Tupac Shakur was as a teenager and young adult. As someone who has found inspiration in his words, I can’t recommend this poetry collection highly enough to those interested in contemporary poetry and to those who just want to understand the rapper a bit more.
My Rating: 5 out 5
Would I recommend it? See above!