by Jennifer Ward
When most of us hear the name Tupac Shakur, we think of 90s rap music, violence, and a rather tough exterior. But underneath that hard shell lies a much softer side of him that few people realize existed. After his death, some of his most intimate, hand-written poems, including a book of his childhood poetry and illustrations, were uncovered. His poetry, which is quite heartfelt and profound, offers a window into his personal life, allowing us to see far beyond his hip-hop persona. While the lyrics in some of his rap songs were offensive enough to insult most women and anyone he hated, his poetry is quite the contrast with his music and the image he portrayed.
The Rose that Grew from Concrete
By TUPAC SHAKUR
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
This is the first poem of his that I ever read. It quickly became my favorite because it is so relatable. There is a strong, inspirational message here when thinking about life’s hardships. The rose is likely a metaphor for Tupac’s struggles on his road to stardom and success. Flowers are enchanting, especially when they bloom, even more so when unexpected. What has resonated most with me here is his unwavering determination to become something, despite the low expectations of others and the odds stacked against him in a rather cold, hard, and overlooked place. His poem also reveals the importance of holding onto those dreams and not getting stuck on seeking validation from others. Nature is fleeting, and so are moments in life, don’t waste time. Know your worth, fight for your dreams, and keep moving forward. I love it.
After reading that poem, I bought a collection of his hand-written poetry bearing the same title, The Rose that Grew from Concrete. What I found was a book of thought-provoking poems with poignant themes.
“Under the Skies Above” is another poem in this collection that reveals his pain and inner strength when dealing with an unthinkable tragedy.
Under the Skies
By TUPAC SHAKUR
My child is out there somewhere
under the skies above
waiting anxiously 4 u and me
2 bless it with our love
A part of me a part of u
and a part of this love we share
will protect my unborn child
who lives dormant out there somewhere
Sometimes in my dreams
I imagine what it would be like
How could I properly guide him
when even I don’t know what’s right
Whether he is born in wealth or poverty
there will be no deficiency in love
I welcome this gift of life
given from GOD under the skies above
This poem is heartbreaking, showing the couple’s excitement, and then their devastating loss. But it’s more than just a sad poem. It reveals an incredible amount of faith and inner strength needed to cope with such an awful, life-changing tragedy. In the end, he reflects that although it wasn’t the outcome they had hoped for, he chooses to see it as a gift from God. I found this poem to be sensitive, inspirational, and positive. It isn’t always easy to communicate that when tackling heavy subjects like this.
This last poem I’m going to share was dedicated in memory of Vincent van Gogh, aptly titled “Starry Night.”
By TUPAC SHAKUR
a creative heart, obsessed with satisfying
This dormant and uncaring society
you have given them the stars at night
and u have given them Bountiful Bouquets of Sunflowers
But 4 u there is only contempt
and though u pour yourself into that frame
and present it so proudly this world could not accept your masterpieces
from the heart
So on that starry night
u gave 2 us and
u took away from us
The one thing we never acknowledged
Tupac understood the struggles of an artist. Through his poem “Starry Night,” he showed appreciation for the talented Vincent van Gogh, who no one significantly noticed until after his death. For many artists, including van Gogh and Tupac, it isn’t about making money; it’s about sharing your gifts with the world. Van Gogh’s gift was painting. Tupac’s gift was writing. Tupac had that incredible drive and passion for being creative. Through his poetry, he shared a hidden talent with us, revealing that he is truly one of a kind.
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