One of the most profound acts of poetry is that it is everywhere. It cannot be hidden, or forbidden. It always arises, anew. Poetry can also be a utensil for the powerless. Those individuals, who do not have the major networks to showcase their invisibility. However, what they do have the power to do is to express it through culture, and words.
There are certain attributes when it comes to the allure of words and their ability to stir the very Souls and being of a people. One of those pertains to being able to go through a unique lens of growth; and growth is not always pretty. In fact, growth can be rather grim, chaotic, and even painful. Nevertheless, it is a journey that we have to venture to. A journey where we return to our core of nothingness. Starting from the very bottom, so that we can experience the very sensory of reaching to the very top.
Tupac Amari Shakur is truly a poet, who understood the power of retreating to Universal blackness, while bringing it into fruition for the nourishment of those, who could not see it. One of the most beautiful attributes concerning this invisible realm is that it cannot be owned; not in a general sense, anyhow. He consistently attributes having “come from the gutter.” Yet, even in the gutter, there is magic. There is creativity. And, there are the blueprints, and utensils, for the fruition of dreams. The Universal realm has not left “the ghetto.” In fact, it is in the ghettos, and poor areas, where that area of creativity becomes that much more necessary. Having to work harder in order to reflect just how beauty is located in many arenas, is a task too often left by those marginalized communities.
One of the sacred enchantments regarding Tupac Amari Shakur, is his mastery of, the word. There was a colorful richness to his tone, texture, and articulation of speech. His lyrical performance, alone, titillated the imagination of a Black American man, matriculating through Black America’s urban sector; while trying to grow gardens, within them. It is a particular skill, in being able to navigate through that specific demographic of Black America’s soiling. Furthermore, it is a unique lens in how he used the power of speech to plant seeds in spaces considered, infertile.
In many ways, Tupac was a lyrical, societal, and philosophical scholar. His analysis of the societal ills is so enriching, articulate, and precise, that its realness, captivated other communities of US landscapes. Able to address issues of classism within Black America, he held leadership within our garden, accountable. It was a necessary, and euphoric, analysis, when addressing our community gardens. Furthermore, his perception of sexism, was also illuminated within our communities. From songs such as “Brenda’s Got A Baby,” ” Dear Mama,” and “Keep Ya’ Head Up,” Shakur highlighted the particular gender issues, relevant to Black American women in lower, socio-economic demographics of the United States. Yet, he articulated such narratives in such an aesthetic, that hope was finalized at the very end. Furthermore, the nutrition forthcoming from his particular texture sprinkled rain onto the florals of Black American womanhood and identity. This is truly evident from the three songs, mentioned previously.
As we delve into his words for the current times, its evident how they are just as relevant. if not, even more. The level of his consciousness was spiritual. Not only did he connect with the voiceless, but he was also in tuned with those iconic figures of Black America. His reading, and listening, of Dr. Maya Angelou, Lorraine Hansberry, Marvin Gay, and other key noted legends, birthed from our gardens, further illuminates his understanding for words to be sacred. That words are gifts from the Universe. The power of the word is magical, and in order for one to be a protector of the oratory, they must have studied with those, who were masters, prior. Honoring the words of his foremothers, and forefathers, was clearly a forte is his own delight. Tupac Shakur took this artistry, seriously. He was of a different genre, and his purpose was clearly for a unique period in our her/history. Regardless, he was still responsible for its protection. Protectors of the word must tell the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. His words are precious, even now.
And then there was the woman who birthed him. His mother-Afeni Shakur. Speaking on the different stages of his relationship with her in The Lost Prison Interview (1995), there is an understanding by Tupac Shakur in how society shaped his relationship with his mother. Not only the relationship, but the different stages in reacting to him; stages that she deemed necessary, to prepare him for outside perceptions, in his existence as a Black American, boy child. A boy who would soon become a man. That stage when his physicality, and very existence, is no longer deemed innocent, or harmless.
If Tupac Amar Shakur was here today, what would he say about Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Tony McDade, and numerous other children of Black America’s gardens, who have been shot down, and murdered? We can ask this question. The truth of the matter is that he answered it decades ago. It was evident that he was planting seeds of oratory, for future generations of Black American youth. Seeds that would imitated other cultures and communities; bringing those with a curious nature, who wanted to hear of one reality of this peculiar people.
A poet already contributed his words to the wellness of Black American people. Almost as if he was planning for these words to be repeated, and explained for this garden. What Tupac Amari Shakur did do was make the power of the Universal word, just as relevant (and artistic) to urban ghettos and “gutters” from his genre. Defying the notion that marginalization can only bring destruction. A form of word play, where he performed one source of magic, laying in the urban sectors of the United States of America. Recently, we celebrated his birthday, June 16, 1971. A re-birth is toiling the soils of US landscapes. That legacy is still living. And the lesson is still being taught, and it was all through the safeguarding, of words.