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Dear Mama by Tupac Shakur
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The gist of this essay will focus on the poetic characteristics that songs always possess in their lyrics. The late Tupac Shakur's music and philosophy is rooted in the several African-American, American, and World entities. He was an African American rapper, who had enthusiasm in extensive reading, and expressed his feelings through rapping (slanging). The rapper wrote many songs, sang them, and this made his reputation in the music world swell up. Furthermore, he had a strong belief in Karma, but opposed a literal notion of the after death life and prearranged destiny. However, most of his songs indicate that he believed in God, and he confirmed this by saying that only God can judge him. He also was a talented poet, and in many of his songs he used poetic language in them. Poetry is mostly dictated by distinctive forms and conventions to put forward a degree of difference in interpretation of words, or to induce emotive responses. This song can be associated with lyric poetry, since it displays personal and expressive feelings of a man. ‘Dear Mama’ is embedded with language figures that make the lyrics of the song a real poem, and his unique style of writing is another piece of evidence.
‘Dear Mama’ by Tupac Shakur is a song that he wrote and sang with the key purpose of thanking his mother. He composed this song as his mother did much for him, having raised him from the time he was little until he became a full-grown man. As he scrutinizes and illuminates in retrospect some of the key points of times when his mother displayed extraordinary maternal love towards him and his sister, his retrospect builds up a token of appreciation, gratification, humility, generosity, love, as well as a soft and large heart towards her. In connection to this, he says, “You always was committed, a poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya (sic) did it…” (Shakur n.p.). These feelings are catalyzed by the fact that he was raised by a single mother, having no husband and father in the family. Conversely, he expresses his thankfulness with so much approval as he incorporates figurative language in the lyrics. Not only did he appreciate his mother’s efforts, but he also regretted some of the morally wrong deeds he committed that sometimes pushed his mother to the wall, causing stressful and fretted life. He resents, “I finally understand for a woman it ain't (sic) easy trying to raise a man” (n.d.). This resentment might have been caused by the wrongdoings he used to engage in with the expense of his mothers concern. This is clearly depicted when he sings that “I (Tupac) was a fool with the big boys, breaking all the rules, I (Tupac) shed tears with my baby sister…hugging on my mama from a jail cell” (n.d.). He even points out vehemently with so much abhorrence that his father did not deserve their love after his disappearance and long absence, which culminated in his death. He evidently writes, “He passed away and I didn't cry, cause (sic) my anger wouldn't let me feel for a stranger. They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless, but all along I was looking for a father he was gone” (n.d.). The love to his mother enlarged during the time his father was absent; thus he states that no other love would surpass that of his mother by saying, “And there's no way I can pay you back, but my plan is to show you that I understand” (n.d.).
The song contains some forms of figurative language that qualifies it to be a kind of poem. The lyrics are plastered with special words and phrases that bring about these poetic effects. Tupac put into use metaphoric language in his work. At the end of the first stanza, he writes, “You always was a black queen, mama” (n.d.). This contains a deeper meaning because he compares his mother to a queen. A queen has the highest rank in a Kingdom; and mother has the highest rank in the family and his heart; he perceived his mother as someone he could reach out to in times of distress and sorrow. He uses metaphor in another line, “I ain't (sic) guilty cause, even though I sell rocks, it feels good putting money in your mailbox…” (n.d.). The word ‘rocks’ gives a hidden meaning to what he actually meant. He did not care what type of job he had to do to satisfy his mother’s financial needs. So, the word ‘rock’ is used to signify the hard times he went through, and the tasks he had to perform so as to earn money for his mother. The use of rhyme is also evident in the song lyrics. He uses rhyme to create rhythm as a decorative element, and a mean to make the song easier to understand.Sound patterns also adds a different meaning to common words and phrases. In the first verse, he writes, “Though back at the time, I never thought I'd see her face, ain't (sic) a woman alive that could take my mama's place” (n.d.). The words ‘face’ and ‘place’ form a rhyme, one of many used in the poem. Other forms of figurative language in the song are rhetorical questions. They are usually used in poetry to create suspense to the reader or listener, as he or she tries to come up with a probable answer to the question. He sings in question, “And who'd think in elementary?” (n.d.). The question doesn’t require the listener to answer but to think. Similes have also been employed in the poem, “And even as a crack fiend, mama” (Shakur, n.d.) Tupac compares himself to a wicked cocaine user or a dealer.
The theme of the poem “Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes is rather similar to the Tupac’s song, the poet talks about a river that takes metaphoric meaning in the poem. He has a strong connection with the ‘river’, and he embraces it just like Tupac embraces his mother and her deeds towards him. When Langston Hughes says, “I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young” (n.d.), it can be compared to Tupac’s phrase when he says, “And all my childhood memories are full of all the sweet things you did for me” (n.d.). This shows the deep connection the two poets had with their youthful life.
Another poem by Langston Hughes “Mother to Son”, the poet depicts the insights and talks about advice a mother gives to her son, teaching him about the difficult times and ruthless moments she went through to have a better life. Comparatively, ‘Dear Mama’ portrays a son’s gratifying speech towards his mother; therefore, the two poems are supplementary to each other. Towards the end f the poem, the Hughes presents the mother’s advice to her son, “So boy, don't you turn back. Don't you set down on the steps 'Cause you find it's kinder (sic) hard. Don't you fall now…” (n.d.). The poem by Langston Hughes can be regarded as a reply to “Dear Mama” by Tupac Shakur.
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