Beauty From Violence

August 3, 2018

I love 90s Hip Hop; I am white, went to public school and grew up in leafy North Oxford. It is clear to me that the music forged in the ghettos of the East and West Coast of America was directed at my personal struggle. 

 

One key aspect of that time was the brilliance of the lyrics written; when compared to the current mumble rap it is positively Shakespearean. 

 

It is hardly a revolutionary statement to say that Tupac Shakur was one of the best lyricists of this time. However, I believe that singular truth is taken for granted and that not enough time is taken to actually appreciate his written word. His songs are often fantastic poems that describe the violence and world through which he grew up and eventually could not sadly escape.

 

One of my favourite songs written by Tupac was to the song; 'Dear Mama'. A very personal track that demonstrates an honesty and love towards his mother that is quite beautiful. It is a track that provides a direct window into his childhood. A childhood that was clearly tough but one that he recounts without the sense of victimhood, a rarity these days. It is an uplifting biographical song that pulls no punches but demonstrates a level of empathy, forgiveness and love that is so often missing in the lazy characterisations of him as a person and an artist. It is a bizarrely beautiful song. 

 

Artist: Tupac Shakur

Album: Me Against the World

Released: 1995

Song: Dear Mama

 

I love you
I love you

 

You are appreciated

 

When I was young me and my mama had beef
Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets
Though back at the time, I never thought I'd see her face
Ain't a woman alive that could take my mama's place
Suspended from school, and scared to go home, I was a fool
With the big boys, breaking all the rules
I shed tears with my baby sister
Over the years we was poorer than the other little kids
And even though we had different daddy's, the same drama
When things went wrong we'd blame mama
I reminisce on the stress I caused, it was hell
Hugging on my mama from a jail cell
And who'd think in elementary?
Hey! I see the penitentiary, one day
And running from the police, that's right
Mama catch me, put a whooping to my backside
And even as a crack fiend, mama
You always was a black queen, mama
I finally understand
For a woman it ain't easy trying to raise a man
(I know it ain't easy)
You always was committed
A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it
There's no way I can pay you back
But the plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

 

Dear mama
Don't you know I love you?
Dear mama
Place no one above you
(Dear mama) Oh mama, I appreciate you
Although my shadow's gone
I will never leave you

 

Now ain't nobody tell us it was fair
No love from my daddy cause the coward wasn't there
He passed away and I didn't cry, cause 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
I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs
They showed a young brother love
I moved out and started really hanging
I needed money of my own so I started slanging
I ain't guilty cause, even though I sell rocks
It feels good putting money in your mailbox
I love paying rent when the rent's due
I hope ya got the diamond necklace that I sent to you
'Cause when I was low you was there for me
And never left me alone because you cared for me
And I could see you coming home after work late
You're in the kitchen trying to fix us a hot plate
Ya just working with the scraps you was given
And mama made miracles every Thanksgiving
But now the road got rough, you're alone
You're trying to raise two bad kids on your own
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

 

Dear mama
Don't you know I love you?
Dear mama
Place no one above you 
(Dear mama) Oh mama, I appreciate you
Although my shadow's gone
I will never leave you

 

Pour out some liquor and I reminisce, cause through the drama
I can always depend on my mama
And when it seems that I'm hopeless
You say the words that can get me back in focus
When I was sick as a little kid
To keep me happy there's no limit to the things you did
And all my childhood memories
Are full of all the sweet things you did for me
And even though I act crazy
I gotta thank the Lord that you made me
There are no words that can express how I feel
You never kept a secret, always stayed real
And I appreciate, how you raised me
And all the extra love that you gave me
I wish I could take the pain away
If you can make it through the night there's a brighter day
Everything will be alright if ya hold on
It's a struggle everyday, gotta roll on
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

 

Dear mama
Don't you know I love you?
Dear mama
Place no one above you 
Oh mama, I appreciate you
Although my shadow's gone
I will never leave you

 

I appreciate you
I love you
I need you
Oh mama
I love you
Appreciate you
I need you
Oh mama

 

I appreciate you
I love you
I need you
Oh mama
I love you
Appreciate you
I need you
Oh mama

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb1ZvUDvLDY

 

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