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The Rose that Grew from Concrete
by Tupac Shakur
Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's law is wrong it learned to walk with out having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping it's dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.
The Rose that Grew from Concrete is an eight line poem without a defined rhyme scheme. Shakur uses symbolism to and metaphor to convey a message about overcoming poverty.
In the poem, the rose represents a person. Concrete represents the inhospitable neighborhood in which the person grows up. Here the rose symbolizes life and beauty and serves as a metaphor for a person with those qualities. Concrete, conversely, is symbolic of lifelessness and a lack of beauty and it thus serves as a metaphor for a poor inner city neighborhood. The Speaker tells us in line three that the rose is growing in defiance of nature’s law. By this, the Speaker means that a beautiful life-filled person should not be possible in the midst of such a bleak and life-oppressing location.
In line four, we get more proof that the rose is a metaphor. The Speaker personifies the rose by indicating that it walks without having feet. Roses do not walk. This lets us know that the poem is using them to represent a human being. Interestingly, though, by indicating that the rose does not have feet, he is saying by implication that the person represented by the rose also lacks feet. The feet (or lack thereof) symbolize opportunity.
In line five, the personification of the rose continues. The Speaker attributes the success of the rose to the fact it kept its dreams. Success here, in line six, is described as “learning to breathe fresh air.” Fresh air likely refers to an escape from the neighbor represented by the concrete. The message in lines five and six is to persevere.
In lines seven and eight, the Speaker celebrates the rose that succeeded. The celebration of line seven is immediately contrasted in line eight with the statement that “no one else ever cared.” We might infer from the poem that the rose then is the Speaker himself.
Who is Tupac Shakur?
Tupac Amaru Shakur (/ˈtuːpɑːk ʃəˈkʊər/ TOO-pahk shə-KOOR; born Lesane Parish Crooks, June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), better known by his stage name 2Pac and by his alias Makaveli, was an American rapper and actor. He is considered by many to be one of the most influential rappers of all time. Much of Shakur’s work has been noted for addressing contemporary social issues that plagued inner cities, and he is considered a symbol of resistance and activism against inequality.
Shakur was born in Manhattan, a borough of New York City, but relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1988. He moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to further pursue his music career. By the time he released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now in 1991, he had become a central figure in West Coast hip hop, introducing social issues in the genre at a time when gangsta rap was dominant in the mainstream. Shakur achieved further critical and commercial success with his follow-up albums Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z… (1993) and Me Against the World (1995).
Shakur became heavily involved in the growing East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry between 1995 and 1996. His double-disc album All Eyez on Me (1996) became certified Diamond by the RIAA. On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas; he died six days later and the gunman was never captured. The Notorious B.I.G., Shakur’s friend turned rival, was at first considered a suspect, but was also murdered in another drive-by shooting six months later. Five more albums have been released since his death, all of which have been certified platinum in the United States.
Shakur is one of the best-selling music artists of all time having sold over 75 million records worldwide. In 2002, he was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone named Shakur in its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Outside music, Shakur also gained considerable success as an actor, with his starring roles as Bishop in Juice (1992), Lucky in Poetic Justice (1993) where he starred alongside Janet Jackson, Ezekiel in Gridlock’d (1997), and Jake in Gang Related (1997), all garnering praise from critics.