Pros: Tupac Shakur was an extraordinarily expressive and creative writer with passion and poetically illustrative personality
Cons: A lot of his poems are depressing in the first half.
Tupac Shakur, the hard core rapper that we all knew had a sensitive side. He was also a poet who wrote with lyrical force, attitude, vibrance and a plethora of emotions. Now don't get me wrong, in my opinion rappers write poetry, but more like spoken word to me, but on a different level speaking about life and experience where it comes out more formatted into a song. Now I knew of Tupac and the rapping he did because I was a big fan of his and had a couple of his albums like Makhiavelli but recently I picked up this book The Rose That Grew From Concrete and I became so opened to the heart of Tupac, it made me admire him even more.
At 19 years of age, Tupac wrote a collection of about 70 poems into a notebook, which was later published after his passing in 1999. It was copywritten by the Estate of Tupac. Nikki Giovanni, another extroadinary poetess, did the foreward of this 150 page book entitled, "The Rose That Grew From Concrete" giving an insight of her knowledge, love and admiration of Tupac and for all of his accomplishments. The book is broken into 4 parts: The Rose That Grew From Concrete, Nothing Can Come Between Us, Just a Breath of Freedom, and Liberty Needs Glasses.
What I thought was so cool about this book was that he hand wrote them like any author would into a notebook, but this book has a page of the poem handwritten in the notebook and then a page of it typed up. It made me feel like even though he has passed away, the book was still a little bit of him, though it was his authorship, but with him involved in the way the book was published. When I looked at the way this book was published, it made me think of Emily Dickenson who was a poetess who wrote a lot as well but who's poems weren't published until after her death. I felt that they included Tupac into this book and it made it a little more Tupac.
Part One: "The Rose That Grew From Concrete
The first poem is coincidently, "The Rose that Grew From concrete" which he considered as autobiographical poem. He speaks of his journey through life where he had accomplished feats that he met without guidance or anyone to help him. This poem , like most of the poems in this book are very short and to the point.
Throughout Part one, you see him build, he speaks of his struggles growing up and the things that he had to turn to, to find a way to survive, and his battle with living life alone.
He dedicates the second poem to himself and entitles it, "In The Depths of Solitude." He speaks of his feelings of loneliness in the world trying to gain acceptance from a world that looks down upon him. He is very open about his feelings in this book and his attitude is so genuine you get to know a little bit more about Tupac without the orchestration and serious scenarios that were often displayed in his music.
Some other poems in the first section include, "Sometimes I Cry," "Under The Skies Above:After the Miscarriage," "What of Fame?", "In Starry Night," and "God" in which he spoke of his deep emotional bond that he found in God to whom he turned to after all the loneliness, hardships, pain, turmoil and downfalls that he had to face. He shows a deep sense of depression and his battles with it. He uses very powerful words and he compares his craftmanship to that of Van Gogh.
Part 2: "Nothing Can Come Between Us"
In Section 2, he speaks of comradery, love, loyalty, heartbreak, unconditional love, pride, his feelings for people like his mother and father and for the women who stood out in his life.
"Black Woman" speaks of his attraction to someone named Marquita that he loved because of the values that she held. To him, she represented what a strong black woman was supposed to be because of her strength, wisdom and the way that she carried herself. He explained his deep passionate feelings for her and put reality into it stating that it may have come to him but any and all relationships require work.
He writes one for Jada entitled, "Jada" which I think was talking about his relationship with actress, Jada Pinkett. He spoke about how he felt for her and how deep his feelings really were for her.
Most of Part 2 is on seeking love that fails and the agony of betrayal and/or brokenheartedness. If you were to read only Part 2, his writing would remind you of the writing of the Romantic poets like my favorite poet, William Blake, who wrote about passion, love, life, relationships, nature and heartbreak and pain. Tupac was a very passionate writer and wrote what he felt and not everyone has the ability to pour out such beautifully formatted poetry onto paper.
Part 3: "Just a Breath of Freedom"
He dedicates "Just a Breath of Freedom" to Nelson Mandela as he speaks of politics, injustices and civil liberties.
"The Sun and Moon" is poetry to the light and it's brilliance. He wrote about his love for nature and how beautiful he thought of it.
"Family Tree" is a story of where he came from and he compares himself to the root in the garden that grows into a tree just like all the others and then makes mention of the fact that he should not be looked upon any differently.
A lot of the poems in this section are untitled but still speaks of the freedoms that we possess just from being into this society and the freedoms that people try to take away. And with speaking on civil liberties, I feel like he was speaking with the law and taking away of his right to live freely because he was in jail. But as an individual that writes and reads poetry consistently, everyone analyzes and finds a different take from poems, so this is just my perception of his writing.
Part 4: "The Liberty Needs Glasses"
In the final part of this book, he talks about the lies that we have to face that deal with our own understanding of freedom and the promises of life that have been broken. He asks rhetorical question, "When will we be free?" And then tells his past goodbye as he leads on his quest of tomorrow.
At first, I only got this book for 2 simple reasons. I love to read and write poetry and Tupac's cute face was on the cover. The cover is very soft with a greyscaled image of Tupac with a white background and border. But after reading this book more than twice. I started admiring him for his honesty, his passion, understanding of life and coming in contact with God, his acceptance of where life has taken him and his willingness to move forward and leave all the hardships and pain in the past. I really admire the person Tupac was beyond the hip-hop game.
His poetry in, "The Rose That Grew From Concrete" is beautiful and I was so content and satisfied with the pages full of emotions and colors. I would recommend this to people who collect poetry or write poetry, people who knew and liked Tupac for his music and for those who only thought of him as a thug because of the lyrics in his rhymes and for the lifestyle that he lead. Through his writing, you may fall in love with a totally different person within the person that you thought you knew.