'Dear Mama': Analysis of Rap Lyrics as Poetry

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An ode can be defined as a "ceremonious lyric poem on an occasion of dignity in which personal emotion and universal themes are united" (Ode, 2012). While hip-hop is known for its violent, masculine, and often, misogynistic lyrics, "Dear Mama" (1995), the first single from Tupac Shakur's album, Me Against the World (1995), can be considered to be a modern ode. Tupac Shakur, also known as 2Pac, one of hip-hop's most influential rappers, intended to pay homage to his mother through this song and frequently referenced it in many of his later songs. "Dear Mama" (1995) contains many elements that allow its lyrics to be analyzed from a literary perspective including tone, theme, and lyrical style. Edward G. Armstrong (2001) has argued that rap is dependent on lyrical content and that rappers avoid using metaphors and word play, instead choosing to transmit their message directly and foregoing any subtleties that may be implied through the lyrics (p. 99). Armstrong (2001) contends that through analysis of rap lyrics, the narrator provides the listener with a first-person perspective of modern urban life (p. 99). Whereas many rappers have exploited the hard and violent lifestyle to which they have been continuously exposed to in their music, often through the celebration of misogyny and violence, Shakur's "Dear Mama" (1995) not only pays tribute to his mother, but also to the countless mothers who have made sacrifices for their children. As Armstrong argues rap music is mostly

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