dancePioneers of the Romantic Era, Coleridge and Wordsworth, held romantic themes that are relevant to Tupac’s own ideology of writing.  One of the fundamental themes in Romantic poetry is founded on the premise that creative works stem from natural emotion found from inside the individual.  In the Preface of Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth and Coleridge define poetry as, “The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” and written by someone “possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, but also thought long and deep.”  Shakur confessional poetry swims in powerful emotion mixed with straight truth found in his sensibility brought forth through deep thought and contemplation coupled with observation of the world around him.  The need to seek and manifest truth sits at the heart of Shakur who was often loathed for his hard core vision of truth rooted in his ongoing “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” which flow in his rhythmic lyrics, his beats, and his tone.   Honest self-expression that overflows with emotion and carries “organic sensibility” and “thought long and deep are unveiled:”

 In the Event of my Demise

Now as I stand here, a man here

Not a perfect one, but a searching one

Seek in another, blazing time

Sound crazy but I’m actually trying to escape my mind….

From out the darkness I struggle to see the light ….

But all of them will dream

That I did it my way

In the event of my demise

Rapper, social activist, hater, lover, there is no middle ground for those that witnessed Shakur rise and fall. His lyrics as poetry strike a chord in its raw truths, just like Dickinson, Plath, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Bukowlski, and Brautigan. There are very few that sit on the fence with Shakur.  The bipolar reaction to Shakur stems from a man who expressed himself in extremes.  Whether or not he would be clearly diagnosed as bipolar can not be determined, however, there are signs that work as themes to allow others to “possibly” learn about mental health and its effects on the brain, which can further open a dialogue in culture without ignorance or fear.  Through his craft there is an opportunity to engage in a discussion with those that may not otherwise care to embark on a journey to learn about systems of the mind working through lyrics which in turn effect society socially, culturally, and intellectually.

Artists that shake things up in society demand attention, and through a continual study of pop culture works that reach such individuals we may break down barriers driving what is considered “academic” poetry versus “street raps.”  The line is not so clear or defined and divorcing them closes off doors of exploration and the possibility to engage those who otherwise would discard “poetry” to the way side along with the champions of change.

The tag line often found on most mental diagnosis is NOS (not otherwise specified.)  Shakur may have suffered a mood disorder NOS.  Examining his lyrics as a vehicle to acknowledge some diagnosis of a mood disorder probably would not have saved his life, his behavior otherwise was the main factor in his murder.  However, an understanding of manic-depression and its onset for a musical poet like Kurt Cobain may have helped prevent his suicide.  With popular culture and musical trends there is an audience that can be reached that may not otherwise have had any expose to what is a complicated issue in society.  However, such education through multiple veins of education will create a new future.

Hip hop dancer image available from Shutterstock.