"The Rose That Grew From Concrete" by Tupac Shakur: A Book Review

The vitals

Author: Tupac Shakur (2Pac)

Pages: 152

2009, MTV Books

Rating:

Readability/entertainment value: 20/20

Writing/Editing 7/10

Total: 27/30

While most of us love or hate 2Pac based on his music or his appearances in such films as Juice, Above the Rim and Poetic Justice, we were not privy to his inner thoughts. His rap was accessible, brutal, honest and thoughtful. He spoke of the racism of society, the dangers of crack cocaine, his love love for his mother and, later, his hatred for East Coast rappers. In interviews, Pac exuded a tough exterior and outspoken attitude.

But there was always something about him that made him stand out. He was handsome, had a laugh that could infect you for miles and his toughness was always softened by a layer of sensitivity. When he was gunned down in September of 1996 at the age of twenty-five, the world lost a reluctant prophet and a brilliant poet who knew the reality of the streets with fatal consequences.

His lyrics were simple, and his delivery was effective. This comes across in his timeless "gangsta" rap and in this remarkable book of poetry, The Rose That Grew From Concrete.

The majority of the poems in this book were written in a writing workshop when he was nineteen years old. The words are penned from an intuitive mind who was not about cuss words and violence. What you'll find in these poems are a brilliant wordsmiths thoughts on God, on family, on relationships, on society and even on himself. Pac, you'll discover, was deeply religious, exceedingly kind and introspective. The poem from which the book takes it's title is a reference to growing up and thriving under tough circumstances. Another of my favorites, Starry Night, is a poem about Vincent Van Gogh, another misunderstood artist. Pac was aware of who he was, and of how he looked in the eyes of others... and, in his words, he just didn't give a fuck.

These poems are not esoteric. The language is simple-- even juvenile at times. It's raw. Pac wasn't worried about form or trying to be the next Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden or Robert Frost, though his vibe shares a lot with Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and other African American poets with a strong social consciousness. He simply wanted to get his thoughts out on paper and he does this, spewing emotion and tenderness all over the page. The poet in me at times rolled my eyes at some of the predictable rhyme schemes, but, I quickly set aside my snobbery and focused on words on the page. Each poem touched me on a deep level. This is the sign of good poetry.

The poems gain power because we see them written in the poets own handwriting. On the left side of each page, you see the original drafts written by 2Pac, next to a typed version of the same poem. Some of the originals include drawings and slang that make his work unique and timeless. The poems are short and say just enough. you won't be left wondering what they mean, but, rather, you'll be impressed that so few and so simply of words could generate such a powerful emotional response in your self.

Whether you're familiar with-- or a fan of-- 2Pac's work or not, this powerful and important book should be read and enjoyed by all. The artist who has released a dozen albums of new material since his passing, shows us that he still has more to give. This book is his gift to you, will you accept it?

warning, explicit lyrics and groovin tunes

My poetry collection

Thanks for Reading.

A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY)is a POET, SHORT STORY, BIOGRAphy AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION, DIGGING TO CHINA, WAS RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AS WELL AS YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.

HIS WORK WILL ALSO BE FEATURED IN BEST NEW FICTION (2014 EDITION), AND HAS APPEARED PREVIOUSLY IN THE RUSTY NAIL, EFICTION, THE CRISIS CHRONICLES, THE HELLROARING REVIEW, BURNINGWORD, SEE SPOT RUN AND THE BELLWETHER REVIEW. HE CURRENTLY SERVES AS MANAGING EDITOR OF EPoetry MAGAZINE AND THE BRIDGE ONLINE NEWSPAPER.

HE WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOSTWRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA, SCHNOODLE, SAUVEE AND BLACK MOOR GOLDFISH, HOWARD WOLOWITZ.

PLEASE VISIT HIS PROFILE PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION. THANKS!

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Comments 16 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Andrea--

you're welcome


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PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks a lot, Karn. I like your comment!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Jennifer. I was sixteen when he died and didn't really listen to him until after he died. Yes. Howard Wolowitz. He's a pretty little fish... though he's going to get about six inches long and live for 25 years or so...


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PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Audrey, all the good poets were and are arrogant... they just didn't all have access to cameras...


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Donnah... hard to complain about that. Kids reading poetry always makes me smile.


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PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks MsDora. Let me know how you like it!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

You're welcome Pickles!


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PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Angela. Let me know how you like it and, if you don't find it at a bookstore, you can always come back here and order it on amazon or e bay.


Andrea333 profile image

Andrea333 3 years ago

Great review! Thanks for introducing me to his art.


ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 3 years ago

the sad truth is that - those who profess to 'not give a fuck' - are usually those who give the BIGGEST fuck! i say it all the time and quite frankly - caring hurts..

this man had heart - so much that it killed him..

such a shame..

and - what have we learned? sigh..

up and sharing, well done!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 3 years ago from Idaho

I do enjoy the poetry of good rap. 2-PAC was a little before my time but the music I have heard I greatly enjoyed. I never knew he wrote a book or that you have a fish named Howard :-) Voted up and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Great review although I must say that I have a lot of difficulty seeing past his arrogance---


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 3 years ago from Upstate New York

This is a brilliant collection of poetry. I used to have a couple of copies on my free reading classroom book cart. I say "used to," because the copies were never returned. My high school students loved this collection of poetry. I know something is getting through when the kids don't want to give the book back. (I can't complain about that.) Good of you to get the word out about Tupac, the poet.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Thanks for sharing the review of the book, and the softer, sensitive, humane side of Tupac Shakur. I did not follow his music, but I know that every soul has access to "emotion and tenderness." I'm pleased that he took time to express his, and I'd be glad to read his work.


picklesandrufus profile image

picklesandrufus 3 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

Wow, I had a totally different opinion of him before reading this hub. Thank you for educating me! Vote up!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 3 years ago from Central Texas

Exceptional review -- and yes, I know who 2Pac was. I'm familiar with his work as a rapper but had no idea he was a published poet (that sounds rather stupid as rappers are poets) but sure you know what I mean. You definitely piqued my interest in this publication and I've put it on the list for my next stop at the bookstore. Thanks! Best/Sis

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    Justin W. Price (PDXKaraokeGuy)742 Followers
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    Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award- nominated author based out of Portland, Oregon.



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