Monday, December 7, 2015

Poem of the Week 12.7.2015


Poem of The Week

"Keep Ya Head Up" by Tupac Shakur







Tupac's "Keep Ya Head Up" Video

[Verse 1]
Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots
I give a holla to my sisters on welfare
2Pac cares, if don't nobody else care
And, I know they like to beat you down a lot
When you come around the block, brothers clown a lot
But please don't cry, dry your eyes, never let up
Forgive but don't forget, girl, keep your head up
And when he tells you you ain't nothin', don't believe him
And if he can't learn to love you, you should leave him
Cause sister, you don't need him
And I ain't tryin' to gas ya up, I just call 'em how I see 'em
You know what makes me unhappy
When brothers make babies, and leave a young mother to be a pappy
And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women
I think it's time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don't we'll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies that make the babies
And since a man can't make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get upI know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up

[Verse 2]
Aiyyo, I remember Marvin Gaye used to sing to me
He had me feelin' like black was the thing to be
And suddenly the ghetto didn't seem so tough
And though we had it rough, we always had enough
I huffed and puffed about my curfew and broke the rules
Ran with the local crew and had a smoke or two
And I realize Momma really paid the price
She nearly gave her life to raise me right
And all I had to give her was my pipe dream
Of how I'd rock the mic and make it to the bright screen
I'm tryin' to make a dollar out of fifteen centsIt's hard to be legit and still pay the rent
And in the end it seems I'm headin' for the pen
I try to find my friends but they're blowin' in the wind
Last night my buddy lost his whole familyIt's gonna take the man in me to conquer this insanity
It seems the rain'll never let up
I try to keep my head up and still keep from gettin' wet up
You know it's funny when it rains it pours
They got money for wars but can't feed the poor
Say there ain't no hope for the youth and the truth is
It ain't no hope for the future
And then they wonder why we crazy
I blame my mother for turning my brother into a crack baby
We ain't meant to survive cause it's a setup
And even though you're fed upHuh, ya got to keep your head up

[Verse 3
And uh, to all the ladies havin' babies on they own
I know it's kinda rough and you're feelin' all alone
Daddy's long gone and he left you by your lonesome
Thank the Lord for my kids, even if nobody else want 'em
Cause I think we can make it, in fact, I'm sure
And if you fall, stand tall and come back for more
Cause ain't nothin' worse than when your son
Wants to know why his daddy don't love him no mo'
You can't complain you was dealt thisHell of a hand without a man, feelin' helplessBecause there's too many things for you to deal with
Dyin' inside, but outside you're looking fearless
While tears is rollin' down your cheeks
Ya steady hopin' things don't fall down this week
Cause if it did, you couldn't take it, and don't blame me
I was given this world I didn't make it
And now my son's gettin' older and older and cold
From havin' the world on his shoulders
While the rich kids is drivin' Benz
I'm still tryin' to hold on to surviving friends
And it's crazy, it seems it'll never let up, but
Please, you got to keep your head up



Okay, I know exactly what you’re thinking. Umm Lisa, this isn’t a poem, it’s a song. Unfortunately my friend you’re WRONG. I mean let's think about this, songs with lyrics use the same literary devices as your favorite poets. Tupac’s "Keep Your Head Up" is no exception. Let's start with the basic structure of the song, it’s separated into verses, let us consider each verse to be the equivalent of a stanza. Now when you read it out loud you’ll notice that it forces you to put the stress on certain parts of words, that is known as iambic stress. This simply means that the way that the words are arranged establish a particular rhythm within that section (or line). A perfect example is this part of the first verse:



And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women
I think it's time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don't we'll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies that make the babies
And since a man can't make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one



The stress of these words within the lines create a fluid rhythm and it not only does Tupac use Iambic stress but this is an example of internal rhyme. It is also the perfect example of my all time favorite literary device alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds. Throughout this section, we have repetition of the “W” sound, but a perfect example of alliteration in this song (in my humble opinion) is the third and fourth lines:


I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women


The repetition of the “W” sound is strongest in these two lines.  This song is also intertextual in the opening line he states; “Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice/I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots”. The Blacker The Berry is a 1929 novel by Wallace Thurman which examines the intra-racial divide within black community where the protagonist in the novel is abused by a man named Alva, a player that uses women for financial support. He assumes that Emma Lou will be easy to swindle because of her extremely dark complexion (a wonderful example of misogynoir, the intersection of racism or colorism combined with the oppression of women). Tupac flips the negativity associated with dark skin by stating that dark skin should be a symbol of pride because it is evidence of a connection to a beautiful yet complex history.

The most powerful part of this song/poem to me is Tupac’s political ideologies. He discusses a diverse list of social problems not only affecting the black community but problems that have an effect on the entire world (They've got money for wars/But can’t feed the poor….DEEP). Despite the fact that this song is old, many of the issues that he touches upon are still relevant today. In one song, he discusses poverty, violence, social injustice, abortion, the mass incarceration of black men and most importantly, Tupac stresses the importance of resilience and perseverance. And he does it in style. Long live the Hip-Hop poets.




One Love,



Lisa Del Sol.

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