Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur has been regarded as a, “modern-day Shakespeare”, a bold revolutionary, his poetry forever emotional and powerful, it offers a dark underground period in the 90’s unseen by conventional poetry. Tupac was not a gang member; throughout his artistic career he became associated with many gang-members, and therefore became an infamous personality throughout the early 90’s. His music even argues in many songs that, “It doesn't matter if you’re a member of the Bloods or Crips.”(“Who Killed 2Pac”). The Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur, is now offered as a class at The University of California, Berkley, which places strict emphasis on his works. His book, The Rose that Grew from Concrete (1991) consisted of 100 poems recognized his poetic ability prior to his successful rap career. The self-titled poem of the book is a metaphor of his struggles and dreams, “Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack, in the concrete, proving nature’s laws wrong it learned to walk, without having feet” (Bell 1). His poetry and music depict ghettos, racism, gang violence, and a myriad of society’s blights. Tupac was taught poetry and acting at the age of 12, and continued his education in the Baltimore School of Arts. At the age of 14 he began writing rap lyrics stating, "That school was saving me … I was writing poetry and shit and I became known as “MC New York”.” (Walter 2). Upon moving to California at 17 he entered his first rap group “Strictly Dope”. He witnessed poverty, social injustice, and racism, which had a profound effect on his perspective on poetry and activism. Tupac was a multi-talented intellectual, who continued to write poetry throughout his life. He was inextricably linked to the gang lifestyle not a member of any gang; he was both their messenger and activist voice in a time of racial tension and explosion of the hip-hop industry. Even during his prison sentence he began studying works by Niccolò Machiavelli, which spurred him to create his new stage name “Makavelli”, he also wrote a screenplay about a drug kingpin from the ghetto. His final studio album produced in 4 days and 3 days to mix, “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory” was a considerably darker album reflecting the rappers final days before his drive-by assassination in 1996. His death had a significant impact on the hip-hop industry regarded to be closely linked to the death of Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace who was assassinated similarly in 1997. Their deaths continue to cast a dark cloud over an industry closely tied with members of rival gangs the Crips and Bloods. Both deaths have been speculated to be gang related, yet their assassinations remain unsolved with very little evidence with many differing theories. Today, Tupac’s songs are in the process of being recognized by the Library of Congress. The song “Dear Mama” is, "a moving and eloquent homage to both the murdered rapper's own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference." Tupac was a revolutionary who spoke for the outcasts pleading for social reform, and racial equality, through the power of poetry and music. His legacy continues today in The Tupac Amur Shakur Center for the Arts which offer adolescents classes in creative writing, theatre, and dance.

Works Cited:
Johnathan, "Who Killed 2Pac?" makaveli2k2000, July, 2001.
Edwards, Walter, "From poetry to rap: the lyrics of Tupac Shakur.". highbeam research 22, June 2002
Bell, Barbra "Rapper Tupac Shakur is re-discovered as a modern-day Shakespeare." 23 April 2010