Released three years after Tupac’s murder in 1996, The Rose That Grew from Concrete is his writings from the time he was nineteen to just a few months before his passing. The poems are simple and concise, written in rhyme and Tupac’s loving shorthand.
Again, I tend to shy away from celebrity poetry and posthumous collections/albums- both of those labels usually hint at money grabs. However, I decided to make an exception for Tupac- and I’m very glad I did.
Tupac is an almost mythical character in the American psyche. He was a pioneer of hip-hop, of rap, of social justice in a way that is often downplayed. He knew it too- his writings hint that he always knew he was destined for great things. Still, these poems serve to humanize Tupac in a way that has never been presented before. Although the poems are a little clunky at times, they speak of a person– of a human being who fell in love, fell out of it, wanted better for himself, had hopes, had dreams. The poems being presented in his handwriting, as written, only adds to this. They prove that, at the end of the day, Tupac was just as human as the rest of us- just as pained and angry and lovelorn and real as anyone else. And this is the true essence of this book- far beyond the words on the page.