Many people knew the late Tupac Shakur as a legend – one of the original kings of rap. He inspired many people of his time of glory and fame to express themselves through rap and speak their truths with words. His words touched the hearts of artists and non-artists and people like The Hate U Give‘s author, Angie Thomas. He was the Tupac. Though he was musically poetic, there are those who aren’t familiar with his literary works and if they are, they only know about The Rose That Grew From Concrete, the poem; however, The Rose That Grew From Concrete is not just a poem. It is an autobiographical poetry collection filled with descriptors and analogical words that en-captured Tupac Shakur as the man that he was – the man he wanted the world to see.
One tactic that is seen throughout his poetry is embedded in the language used throughout the collection. In fact, it isn’t hard to find. It’s in plain sight, hiding no secrets from the reader. It was a way of being raw and showing the audience that he had nothing to hide from them. This was his heart on paper – in words. Tupac used what we call today “texting slang”. Of course, that would not be the first thing I’d say about his writing scheme while talking to another about the work at hand. However, a lot of the language is shorthand. He used letters and numbers like ‘u’ and ‘2’ for ‘you’ and ‘to’. It was very simplistic. Although, I do believe he purposely wrote in that way to emphasize the underlying message and the power behind it. His words showed that even if you don’t speak in big words and fancy phrases doesn’t mean you don’t have power in your words. You just have to listen and pay attention regardless of speech or education or your background.
Another genius tactic that Tupac utilized was the length of his poetry. Most of his poems are under a minute long and a lot of the time he wrote in one brief stanza. In doing so, he gives the reader a longer opportunity to let the words sink in. An example of such from the collection is his poem What of Fame?. The poem is three lines long and he uses little capitalization. The words are brief and short. However, after even the first read, the reader gets an “ahh” moment. The words are short and simple but the many meanings that it carries gives the words baggage, making them heavy on the tongue, heart, and mind. The shortness of the poems overall could also be interpreted as the shortness life holds. Nearly all of Tupac’s poems addressed the baggage of life and what it was like to live in his shoes. He spoke the pain of life. In doing so, he added to the pain of life by providing the shortness of it in his words and stanzas. Brief, but heavy.
Tupac wanted to touch the hearts of many in this poetry collection. He was raw and allowed himself to spill his guts to those who dared to read. It is safe to say that any reader of this collection should be grateful to have read art. There is no recreation to his work – it stands alone. It stands tall and though short, they carry more heaviness and baggage than most people could imagine their lives having. That was the life of Tupac Shakur.