Today we remember 2Pac, who would’ve turned 50 years old today.
“Some say nothing gold can last forever,” he wrote from a prison cell at Rikers Island according to a video Jada Pinkett-Smith as she posted on Instagram. Smith released a video of herself reciting a never before seen poem titled “Lost Soulz” which was hand-written by Tupac.
She posted the video as an act of remembrance for what would have been Pac’s 50th birthday.
Picking up where Jada Pinkett Smith left off, we’d like to highlight Tupac’s artistry as a poet both within and outside the scope of rapping.
At 9:56am on June 28, 1995 Tupac sat in front of a courtroom and was asked by a lawyer “how’d you get interested in music?” Tupac responded “I started off with poetry, writing poetry… poets I saw were looked on as wimps, so I did that personally and then turned my poems into songs… It was my opinion that I was rapping while I was writing poetry.”
In 1993 Tupac starred as “Lucky” in a film titled Poetic Justice alongside Janet Jackson. Poet Maya Angelou wrote the poems used in Poetic Justice and told a story on the PBS series “American Masters,” about the day she met Tupac.
“When was the last time someone told you how important you are?” said Angelou to Shakur.
Poetry through Music
More than most MC’s, Tupac delivers his lyrics in an extremely conversational tone while using artistic language. Pac lyrics read like poetry, because they are. Read the lyrics to “Versace” by Migos, then read the lyrics to Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” and you’ll know what I mean.
“Dear Mama don’t cry, your baby boy’s doing good
Tell the homies I’m in Heaven and they ain’t got hoods.”
Did you know that Tupac wrote a book of poetry?
In 1999 “The Rose That Grew from Concrete” was published – it’s a collection of poetry written by Tupac between 1989 and 1991. These poems can be heard as a collaborative album that goes by the same name. Rev Run, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Q-Tip, and many hip-hop greats narrate the words Tupac wrote.
Tupac was a poet from the day he was born to the day he died.
James Baldwin once said “The poets are the only people who know the truth about us. Soldiers don’t, statesmen don’t, priests don’t, union leaders don’t. Only the poets! That’s my first proposition. My second proposition is, and it sounds mystical – in a country like ours, in a time like this; something awful is happening to a civilization when it ceases to produce poets. And what is even more crucial, when it ceases in any way to believe in the report that only poets can make.”