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The Rose That Grew from Concrete

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This collection of more than 100 poems that honestly and artfully confront topics ranging from poverty and motherhood to Van Gogh and Mandela is presented in Tupac Shakur's own handwriting on one side of the page, with a typed version on the opposite side.

176 pages, Hardcover

First published November 1, 1999

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About the author

Tupac Shakur

15 books747 followers
Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper. In addition to his status as a top-selling recording artist, Shakur was a successful film actor and a prominent social activist. He is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-selling rap artist, with over 75,000,000 albums sold worldwide, including over 50,000,000 in the United States. Most of Shakur's songs are about growing up amid violence and hardship in ghettos, racism, problems in society and conflicts with other rappers. Shakur's work is known for advocating political, economic, social and racial equality, as well as his raw descriptions of violence, drug and alcohol abuse and conflicts with the law.

Shakur was initially a roadie and backup dancer for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground. Shakur's debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, gained critical recognition and backlash for its controversial lyrics. Shakur became the target of lawsuits and experienced other legal problems. Later, he was shot five times and robbed in the lobby of a recording studio in New York City. Following the event, Shakur grew suspicious that other figures in the rap industry had prior knowledge of the incident and did not warn him; the controversy helped spark the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry. After serving eleven months of his sentence for sexual abuse, Shakur was released from prison on an appeal financed by Marion "Suge" Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records. In exchange for Knight's assistance, Shakur agreed to release three albums under the Death Row label. Shakur's fifth album, the first double-disc release in hip hop history All Eyez on Me, was counted as two albums.

On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, and died six days later of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest at the University Medical Center.

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5 stars
6,365 (58%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,110 reviews
Profile Image for Abraham.
60 reviews22 followers
August 31, 2009
Tupac's story is incredibly fascinating. Although he's popularly portrayed as a cold-hearted gangbanger, those who dig deeper will find that he was an incredibly complex, soulful person with a deep sensitivity that the mainstream media misses.

This book of his original poetry, written when he was 19 on scraps of notepaper, really surprised me by giving a glimpse into that sensitive side. While some of the poetry is trite, there are a number of poems that border on profound, expressing Tupac's deep appreciation for life and those who inspired him (both in his personal life and historical figures).

Clearly, Tupac lived a life of contradictions. He was a gangbanger, but we also know that he was a sweet, loving person as well. We all embody incredible contradictions, just like America was created and is sustained by powerful contradictions. I really like how Tupac tried to show people that, for better or for worse, our lives are defined by contradictions, and we need to make the best of it.

One question I would like to ask Tupac is this: "Did you want to die young, so that you would become the legend you are today? Or did your death take you by surprise?"
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,828 reviews651 followers
May 31, 2017
Poems are the reflections of an individual soul; we should look at the reflections and ask what we see in our own soul reflected back - good, bad or indifferent it is one of the purest ways we can connect as human beings. As such I find these poems filled with pure reflections of Tupac and appreciate the fact that he shared them with us.
Profile Image for Mariam.
72 reviews279 followers
March 24, 2013
Tupac Shakur.

Tupac Shakur.

Tupac Shakur.
I've resurrected you a gazillion times in my mind, but I realize that you're truly gone. gone. gone.

"How did you know through your rhymes it was your time to go? You predicted it in every line, all in your flow" - Nas

In the event of my Demise
when my heart can beat no more
I Hope I Die For A Principle
or A Belief that I had Lived 4
I will die Before My Time
Because I feel the shadow's Depth
so much I wanted 2 accomplish
before I reached my Death
I have come 2 grips with the possibility
and wiped the last tear from My eyes
I Loved All who were Positive
In the event of my Demise!

Tupac Shakur.

Tupac Shakur.

Tupac Shakur.
"...were you crucified like the son of God, when Lucifer lied and make the world think young blacks should be extinct?
But Thug Life'll never die, we stay high and just link.

Still somehow I believe, we always survive..."

Profile Image for Eva.
21 reviews21 followers
May 26, 2011
Honestly written with no pretense. I am not a fan of his music. Reading this book made me see the beauty of this man's soul.
Profile Image for Brown Girl Reading.
346 reviews1,595 followers
July 5, 2014
Kim Lechelle read a poem from this collection by Tupac for Poetry thursday over on You Tube and I had to get this. I devoured it upon its arrival. Such a fantastic collection of poems. His original hand written poems are on the left page and a typed version on the right page. The poems cover so many themes from love, fear, devotion, youth, desires, family, etc. There was a lot going on this young man's head. A lot more than anybody could have imagined. Tupac would have been 43 years old this year and would have been proud to see his poems bound so beautifully. This book would make a beautiful gift to lovers of poems, Tupac, or just simply a moment of reading sensitivity and realness. I would rate this one 4,5 stars if Goodreads would let me! Check it out!
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,440 followers
October 3, 2012
I loved this poetry collection. I had no idea that Tupac had actually written poetry, though I'll always be a big fan of his music, especially the socially-conscious songs. A lot of the poems are heartfelt, bemoaning social issues, injustices and racism. A few are also very poignant, especially the one where he talks about his girlfriend suffering from a miscarriage. There are also some poems dedicated to the loves of his life,Marilyn Monroe, Nelson Mandela, Vincent Van Gogh, etc. The poems show his intelligence and sensitivity and you can almost sense him healing and maturing through his words.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,083 reviews2,931 followers
January 12, 2022
This is a beautiful collection of poems which give insight into the brave and clever soul Tupac Shakur really was.

Stylistically, the poems are fairly simple and not outstandingly beautiful, nonetheless, their content is incredible. Tupac was a 19 years old when he wrote these, and his social commentary, his love letters and his devotion to his mama just show how complex his thoughts were, even at such a young age.
“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it's dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
It is such a tragedy that he died so young, he could have achieved greatness beyond measure.
Profile Image for 8th_Promise.
12 reviews34 followers
April 16, 2020
"The Rose That Grew from Concrete" has a personal journal theme. It did take me longer to read versus the latest poetry style that has been elevated. Nonetheless, it is worth reading. The poems were close to the same length as the new aged poems and you could experience Tupac's mind as you read. I believe it showed a slightly different style/side of him compared to some of his songs. I liked the fact that you could drift through the book with every emotion from Love-Pain-Trauma-and Regular thoughts. I have to also mention that I enjoyed reading Tupac's REAL handwriting and his writting process ( with scratchouts, corrections, etc.) You will definitely have to know a little about history to understand some of his poems. You may learn alot from "The Rose That Grew from Concreate".
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1 review
July 21, 2012
I bought this book at Barnes and Nobles and it what a bit pricey for a book of poetry but let me tell you....it was definitely worth it.

For starters if you love to read poetry, then this is actually a really good book because it has such deep, and powerful meaning.
If you like writing poetry, this book will make you want to write poetry like him (as in to have real meaning to your poetry).
But aside from that, you guys should definitely read this book because although Tupac may be a "thug" this guy wrote some real shit.

What people don't get is that Tupac was actually a very smart man. Yeah he was a "thug" and whatnot but Tupac was really smart. He read very often and some people didn't see that. He wasn't just a "thug" making music but the guy was smart. I keep saying that he's smart, I know, but it's really true. A real Tupac fan will know why I say that. Even his MUSIC has such deep meaning and if you listen closely you'll understand. If any of you decide to read it contemplate his words from his book because it truly is great.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
3 reviews
November 20, 2009
"The Rose That Grew From Concrete" is a really inspiring book to me. I personally think that Tupac was a great writer and rapper. Just a great human being all around, that had a pretty rough life. Like it says in” If I Fail","There was never a life as hard as mine. No father-no money-no chance and no guide." Although I don't know much of his history by logic and I don't really hear a lot of his rap, I thought I would give this book a chance.

I have a classmate that all he hears is pretty much Tupac, and he always wants me to be listening. I wasn't ever interested till my other friend showed me this book. At first I thought to give it a chance just see what was all the "listen to this", and "listen to that", about. And well of course, the cover is awesome, it brought my attention right away.

This book isn't really a story, but it depends how you look at it. It's mostly like poems and lyrics to his songs, but they are based on his life. For example the poem "Under he Skies" says "My child is out there somewhere under the skies above", he's talking about his daughter. Most of these poems got to my heart. They explain so much feeling and love out to the reader. My favorite poem out of all was "And Still I Love U". This poem just brought so much feeling into me, it was sad but really romantic. "Even if u changed your mind and said our love was thru I'd want 2 die continuously cry and still I'd love u", that quote just hit me. But, even if this book made me sad at times, I got to admit it is one of my favorite books. Not because you don't need allot of logic to read it or because its not a 500 page book, but because of what it made me feel.

He's writing style is not really professional. It more like slang, but it's understandable. I think the reason the book was published like this is because it was never meant to be published. It was just he's own poems and lyrics to keep to him self. But, after he's death it was important for people to recognize what he was about, and I’m glad I got that opportunity.

Honestly, I really liked this book, I thought it was pretty amazing. I think that he's writing is really heartwarming and wonderful. I am actually more into his music now, I actually listen to the lyrics rather than just the beat. I think this book is much like other love & life poetry books, but different at the same time. Just because the fact that is Tupac, I think that's what makes this book have many more hits.

I really encourage you to read this book. It will show you the kind of person that Tupac really was. Always remember "Don't judge a book by its cover."
Profile Image for Kristina.
312 reviews17 followers
July 15, 2017
There are definitely a few poems in here, specifically toward the end, that I thought-yes, this is good stuff. Does this show another side of him, absolutely. Did I like seeing this side of him? Absolutely. Would I consider all of it great poetry? No. But, with that said, I think it's a good place to start when you look at his life. His famous life was replete with controversy, this book would say otherwise. While he may have been perceived as a rougher man, the love he had for people is very apparent in these poems. It definitely makes me want to know more about his life.

Profile Image for Sincerae Smith.
218 reviews76 followers
May 13, 2015
Tupac Shakur is the only rapper I like. Some of his rap songs could be classified as brilliant urban poetry.

Since I adore poetry I decided to read this book that I found at the library. I had already read the title's poem The Rose That Grew from Concrete online. I wasn't sure I would like Tupac's poetry and if it would really touch me, but some of it did.

Many of the poems in the collection were written in his teen years. Tupac's poems talk about growing pains, teenage love and lust, being a young black male in America, his dreams and aspirations, his devotion to his mother even when she disappoints him, America's hypocrisy and racism and indifference to the poor and disenfranchised, revolutionaries like Nelson Mandela and Huey Newton, etc. Reading these powerful little poems I feel that they are truly heart felt.
Profile Image for Dona.
436 reviews79 followers
February 1, 2023
I finished my reread of this beautiful classic in only one sitting. I find it mesmerising to sit with Tupac in this form, in which he is so comfortable expressing his vulnerability, and gaze at the specters of his life.

THE ROSE THAT GREW FROM CONCRETE includes love poetry to his wife, and then exwife, April, and other women Tupac fell in love with. He was a romantic if he was anything at all, and if he was anything at all, he was a revolutionary. The collection also includes eye opening pieces about his beliefs and work as a Black Panther, about the effects of crack on his community and family, about poverty in his streets and hunger in his belly, and his distrust of the US government.

The edition of this book that I bought is gorgeous, with facing pages displaying both a mimeograph of Tupac's handwritten poem from his journals, across from a typewritten version. I was able to connect to this poetry on a deeper level, I think, for seeing Tupac's own handwriting and run on lines, doodles and scratch outs. I will never purge this edition from my collection; it is one of my all time favorites.

This is a collection you should read if you want to know more about Tupac the artist, Tupac the man, and Tupac the humanitarian. Or if you just want to enjoy some beautiful poetry as only Tupac could write it!

But now like a nightmare I wake 2 c
That I live like a prisoner of Poverty
Please wake me when I'm free
I cannot bear captivity...

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌟 stars
Recommend: definitely!
Finished: 2nd reading - January 31 2023
Read this book if you like:
🎙 Tupac Shakur
🎶 90s rap music
✒️ Contemporary poetry
🌆 Slice of life poetry
💜 Poetry about love and family
Profile Image for Eva-Marie.
1,672 reviews128 followers
January 20, 2009
I'm glad I finally took the time out to read this. It was awesome seeing Tupac's words in his own writing for me. I agree with most of the others who have reviewed the book on the poems, they really aren't much to get excited about but I don't think the poems themselves were what was/is supposed to be concentrated on. I think his words in general, his feelings, moods and beliefs, etc. were and are what should be looked at.
I got a kick out of all the poems that were dedicated to a different chick. Go Tupac! :)
Profile Image for Michael Tavon.
Author 35 books145 followers
October 20, 2019
Tupac as an artist and misunderstood advocate was always a huge inspiration for me growing up and this book solidified it. I loved the written language, it’s very informal
Ex using 2 instead of to, or 4 instead of for
I could literally hear his voice as I read it.
The subject matter tackles the plight of urban youth, death, love, and his life. I absolutely loved it
2 reviews1 follower
October 14, 2010
A book I recently read was The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Amaru Shakur. At First i thought it would be a book full of Tupacs raps,but when I started reading I realized that this book was full of rhymes, but it wasn't raps it was poetry which is one thing about this book that interested me.A lot of people probably think this book would be about the thug life most of his raps are about, but instead it is about all of his thoughts and emotions/feelings about the people he's loved,people he's lost,and fame.Two examples of this are "1st Impression For Irene",
"Just when i thought I'd seen it all,
our paths crossed and we met,
and I knew from the first glance,
that you would be hard to forget,
your eyes attracted me first,
But you reeked of sultry confidence,
I couldn't wait to touch lips,
and kiss with my hearts intentions,
wjem we did it was what i expected,
and for that moment we erased the tensions,
of the awkwardness of first date jitters,
and the initial first blind date impression,
we kissed again and i felt the passion,
and this was cupids blessing"-Tupac
"In The Event Of My Demise"
"In the event of my demise,
when my heart can beat no more,
I hope I die for a principle,
or belief I had lived for,
I will die before my time,
Because i feel the shadows depth,
so much i wanted to accomplish,
before i reached my death,
I have come to grips with the possibility,
and wiped the last tears from my eyes,
I loved all those who were positive,
In the event of my Demise,"-Tupac
I would reccomend this book to other people who like poetrybecause Tupax shows his poetic side in this book and he has some great material.Before this book I never knew how some one could successfully put their emotions or thoughts on paper in such a way.This book changed the way I think about Tupac, before I thought he was a man of few emotions who felt close to nothing, but now I see he feels everything anyone else does,he just stores his feelings on paper in poetry form in a book i never heard of until I read it recently.This is my book review on the book The Rose That Grew From Concrete.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kiacarter.
41 reviews19 followers
January 3, 2012
I dont know the exact date i finished this book but I loved it. I was in study hall when i first saw it on the book shelf (10th grade). Its poetry that tupac had done. After i got done reading all of the poetry that was inside of it, i started to write down all of the poems that i like on a piece of paper. Now out of high school i still have them till this day! This book actually inspired me to start writting my own poetry.
January 10, 2021
Beautiful, deep, honest, compassionate...this collection is beautiful. It made me feel very emotional thinking about how talented and wise he was, and how he was taken so early. His words show a very vulnerable part of him. I really enjoyed this and didn't want it to end.
Profile Image for B. P. Rinehart.
747 reviews256 followers
August 27, 2018
[update: 8/4/2016]:
This book has been long overdue for a reappraisal by me. When I initially reviewed, I was not in good form for analysis. I went back and reread this book and will give a better review. Though I still think Tupac's ultimate calling was as an emcee, his lyricism and touch with words was supreme. The wit and emotion is something that comes from a place he did not often show in his music, but it is still his voice on the page. The poems are short, but urgent and reminded me of the poems I encountered in Victims of a Map: A Bilingual Anthology of Arabic Poetry. I do not know how better to explain than by giving you a sample in the form of a poem written as a dedication to Vincent van Gogh (this book is filled with different odes and dedications) and then my original, "somewhat flawed" review:
Starry Night

a creative heart, obsessed with satisfying
This dormant and uncaring society
u have given them the stars at night
and u have given them Bountiful Bouquets of Sunflowers
But [for] u there is only contempt
and though u pour yourself into that frame
and present it so proudly
this world could not accept your masterpieces
from the heart

So on that starry night
u gave [to] us and
u took away from us
The one thing we never acknowledged
your life

I was very impressed with the poems in this book. I am still a bigger fan of his music but I would recommend this book to contemporary poetry lovers. If given the choice between this book and his greatest hits CD...I'm gonna choose the CD but I will still refer to this book every once in a while or when the opportunity warrants it. So simply put great lyrics by a great lyricist. (I'll still go with Langston Hughes, T.S. Elliot, or Rumi for poetry if I have to name my favorites).

I won't leave it there. I think had Tupac seriously dedicated himself to literature he would have been ranked among the greatest modern poets (in a literal sense) of the age. It just turned out he had a natural gift as a rapper and that profession pays a lot more (besides you will never see hologram Robert Frost invited to any music festivals).
Profile Image for TIKA.
9 reviews
December 3, 2010
This book is about Tupac's life. It starts off with poems and the first one talking about the rose that grew from concrete which he said thats deep because you dont see nothing growing from the concrete. There's poems about his life and what he belives in like the rights for blacks. Like theres a chapter where he says he believes Lady Liberty and STatue of Liberty needs glasses. Did you know he was a Black Pantha?
I like this book because I look up too Tupac. No I dont look up too him because of the violence but I look up too him because he was able to turn his life around and turn himself into an intellect. He was able to predict the end with his demise. Now thats DEEP. There has been ups and downs in this book like his relationships. He talks about all the love he gave to his women but when they divorced he felt broken and lonely but I kinda feel that songs like Changes was dedicated to the Black Pantha and the song Gotta Keep Ya Head Up was dedicated to the women that he treated wrong or to tell women that to stay strong and for men to really become men and raise there kids because him himself had no father also so he wrote this song for those women who are down and for those men who pregnated our women to watch their kids. Can we go any deeper with the words of Tupac that he has left us with because all I know is that he turned his life around and made our society better with words of intellectual thought. Before I finish my thoughts why is it when all the rappers fall and the most greatest deepest rapper in my eyes gets shot and killed we do not know the exact reason why he was shot? Ask yourself that because thats a deep question to ask our society!
Profile Image for Al_norahughes.
24 reviews2 followers
May 26, 2010
I've always loved Tupak and even more have respected him. This book of poems written over some years of his life are a window into this young man's deepest feelings. Mirrored by much of his music the words are lyrical and raw. Hip hop and rap used to be pivotal in the civil rights movement- many older generation hip hiop stars were born of the movement- Tupak's mother was a black panther. Tupak was a disciplined and educated man. This comes across in his poetry as in his music. In my opinion Tupak expresses a lot of what is now missing from the genre of young black artists out there rapping and playing at music. The foreword from Nikki Giovanni is incredible as well. "He desearves to be taken seriously and we must therefore mourn." I agree. And would add that all rappers have been chasing his asthetic since his death, few have come close.
A great book for late middle school or to spark deeper conversations in high school.
Profile Image for Jazmin Zambrano.
5 reviews1 follower
December 3, 2021
"Tupac felt that through art we could incite a new revolution that incorporated the heart, mind, body, spirit, and soul." This book is very good for people who love poems like myself. The author includes all of Tupac's poems from a journal he kept. The book provides pictures of the poems he wrote themselves and a typed out version on the side in case its hard to read the picture copy. For me this book brought out many feeling, these poems invoke a sense of familiarity reading these poems make you feel like Tupac is talking to you. If you love music I defenitly recommend this book the peoms give you the same feeling music does. These poems tap into your mind, your body, your emotions, your heart the author made an amazing literary work for those who feel very connected to music and poems. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend this for anyone and everyone.
Profile Image for Jordan Barclay.
133 reviews
July 15, 2020
In the event of my Demise
When my heart can beat no more
I hope I die for a principle
Or a belief that I had lived 4
I will die before my time
Because I feel the shadow’s depth
So much I wanted 2 accomplish
Before I reached my death
I have come 2 grips with the possibility
And wiped the last tear from my eyes
I loved all who were positive
In the event of my demise!

This f***** me up man...

Profile Image for D.J. Walters.
Author 4 books126 followers
August 6, 2020
What a beautiful insight into Tupac's life. It's like a autobiography written through poetry.
Profile Image for Francesca Forrest.
Author 20 books86 followers
April 8, 2019
These are heartfelt and nice--I especially enjoyed that the manuscript versions are included too, and the manuscripts do things the printed versions don't--like have drawings of an eye for "I."
The poems are not as complex as his raps, though, so I think when I use these in class I'll use some raps too, for contrast. The raps are much longer, as well.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,380 reviews34 followers
December 27, 2022
This collection of poems written by Tupac at nineteen showcases a layered young man, who would later die at 25, thus immortalizing him. He was a complex person, showing some tenderness and insight in these poems, yet his later years would be overshadowed by his gang ties and criminal allegations.

I best remember him in a cameo appearance on the sitcom A Different World, where he played a character perhaps similar to himself alongside his IRL friend Jada Pinkett who starred on the show in later seasons. I thought him sexy, but wasn't a fan of his music and was horrified by what I later heard about him in the news. He was a troubled man, full of contradictions- I wonder what his legacy would be today if he was still alive.
Profile Image for Dane Cobain.
Author 22 books308 followers
January 3, 2020
I was quite exciting to get to this one because I’d heard someone talking about it on BookTube and I like Tupac’s music as much as the next person. Unfortunately, it got off on a bad foot to begin with thanks to four or five different introductions, each of which tried to paint Shakur’s poetry as being worthy of being included amongst the top ranks of contemporary literature.

But the poems themselves just feel like incomplete song lyrics. Half of them are just love poems for various different women, and a pretty sizeable proportion are about a god that I don’t believe in. Plus I got annoyed by him writing “2” instead of “to” and “4” instead of “for”. So yeah, only worth reading for major Tupac fans.
Profile Image for Kate.
19 reviews3 followers
June 4, 2021
The Rose That Grew from Concrete is a collection of poems written by Tupac between 1989 and 1990. And even though this covers only a short period of his life, it's so much more than just poetry. Every single poem tells a story and is a window into the thoughts and mind of him. They tell the story of how he fell in love - multiple times, how he dealt with his child dying, how he coped with his mother falling for crack, his thoughts on politics and the Panthers, of his friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith.

I first fell in love with 2Pac's songs over two decades ago and I fell in love with his poems now. And the fact that he dedicated poems to both Marylin Monroe and Vincent van Gogh, who I both adore, makes me cherish this book even more.
2 reviews1 follower
August 31, 2012
Tupac's journal was an inspirational masterpiece. It showed true genius. Though without having a plot twist, this book did tell a story. You got to understand what went on through the mind of Tupac. He pours all of his emotions out. After reading this book, no matter who you are, you should find it hard to find reasons to dislike this man. I never knew a thing about him, other than the fact he used to be a great musician, but now I feel like I know and understand his troubles that he went through. His stories have inspired me and from what I've read, thousands of other people too. If you want to be enlightened I strongly suggest reading The Rose That Grew from Concrete.
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