In a Nutshell
Do you have someone in your life you need to forgive? Have you gone through a tough experience that you've never fully come to terms with? Do you ever get mad at your mom?
If you need a little guidance in the forgiveness department (or in the appreciating-your-mom department), stop right now, in the name of love, and listen to Tupac Shakur. "Dear Mama" is his famous dedication to his mother, Black Panther activist Afeni Shakur, whom he revered—even though, as he infamously raps, she was a "crack fiend" when he was a kid.
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Tupac Shakur (vocals), DF Master Tee, Moses (co-production), Paul Arnold, Jeff Griffin (mixing), Ronnie Vann (guitar), Reggie Green (background vocals)
|Album||Me Against the World|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Tupac Shakur was born controversial, the child of an activist who was released from jail only a month before his birth.
Twenty-five years later, Tupac Shakur died controversial, victim to a shooting that remains unexplained to this day.
Those who loved him canonized him as a "ghetto saint" while others criticized him for appearing to embrace violence. It's true that Tupac forged an unusual identity, using his fame to praise pimps, thugs, and Shakespeare
alike: "[Shakespeare] wrote some of the rawest stories, man," Pac said
after his release from prison in 1995. "I mean look at Romeo and Juliet
. That's some serious ghetto s---." Despite (or maybe partly because of) his brilliance, Tupac's identity was also a lightning rod, gaining him critics ranging from members of Congress to fans of rival rappers.
Tupac's childhood story is also the story of what some have called the "post-revolutionary generation," black youth born in the 1970s and 80s who inherited their parents' radical activist commitments, but grew up in surroundings that were disillusioning at best and traumatic at worst. The urban plagues of the 1980s
had decimated urban communities. Pac's mother was born into poverty, became dependent on welfare, and eventually developed an addiction to crack cocaine. When race riots flared in L.A. in the early 1990s, young African-Americans wondered what had happened to their parents' proud Civil Rights
past. Tupac's powerful voice showed up to answer them, but the answers didn't come easy.
On the Charts
"Dear Mama" peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100
and #3 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. It made it to #1 on the Hot Dance Music and Rap charts.Me Against the World
debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200
, making Tupac the first artist to have an album debut at the top of the charts while in prison. It also topped the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
In 2010, "Dear Mama" was one of 25 songs to be added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress
. To receive this rare honor, songs in the registry must be at least ten years old and deemed "culturally significant."
Tupac is ranked at #85 on Rolling Stone
's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time
In 2006, MTV ranked Tupac at #2 on their list of the greatest MCs of all time
(Jay-Z came in first).