Study Guide

Dear Mama

Dear Mama Introduction

In a Nutshell

Raise your hand if you have someone in your life you should forgive. Raise your hand if you've gone through a tough experience that you've never fully come to terms with. Raise your hand if you ever get mad at your mom.

Heck, if both of your hands aren't up, Shmoop's callin' shenanigans. We're all human. This is a safe space.

If you need a little guidance in the forgiveness department, the acceptance department, or the appreciating-your-mom department, stop everything you're doing right now. 

And in the name of love, listen to some Tupac Shakur. "Dear Mama" is his famous dedication to his mother, Black Panther activist Afeni Shakur, whom he revered as a "Black queen," even though she was also a "crack fiend" when he was a kid.

If you listen to this one and don't get a little misty-eyed, Shmoop's callin' shenanigans again.

About the Song

Artist2Pac
Year1995
LabelInterscope
Writer(s)Tupac Shakur
Producer(s)Tony Pizarro
Musician(s)Tupac Shakur (vocals); DF Master Tee, Moses (co-production); Paul Arnold, Jeff Griffin (mixing); Ronnie Vann (guitar), Reggie Green (background vocals)
Learn to playTablature, Piano
AlbumMe Against the World

Music Video

Influences on 2Pac

Shakespeare
Machiavelli
Big Syke
Scar Face
NWA
Ice-T
Rakim
Too Short
Above the Law
L.L. Cool J

Influenced by 2Pac

50 Cent
Eminem
Mac Mall

Dear Mama Resources

Books

Michael Eric Dyson, Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur (2006)
Dyson argues for elevating Tupac to the status of ghetto angel, or even Black Jesus, and makes many interesting and nuanced points along the way.

Jamal Joseph, Tupac Shakur: Legacy (2006)
An amazing compilation of biography, interviews, and artifacts from Tupac’s life, including letters, drafts of poetry, and business memos.

Tayannah Lee McQuillar and Fred L. Johnson, Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of An American Icon (2010)
This biography delves into the legacy of Tupac and focuses on the theology surrounding his mysterious death.

Tupac Shakur, The Rose that Grew from Concrete (2009)
Here's Pac's poetry from 1989–1991, before he became famous.

Allen Sitomer and Michael Cirelli, Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics (2004)
This is a great interactive book about reading hip-hop lyrics alongside classic literature.

Albums

2Pacalypse Now (1991)
This was Pac's debut solo album.

Me Against the World (1995)
The album has been called "incendiary" and "controversial," and it's celebrated as one of Tupac's most personal works.

Resurrection (2003)
The soundtrack to the documentary film is one of eight posthumously released Tupac albums.

Images

Tupac Shakur
Images of Tupac aren't hard to come by. This one graces book and DVD covers, and not to mention fansites galore.

Me Against the World Album Cover
It's classic Tupac. And also classic mid-'90s.

Movies & TV

Tupac Uncensored and Uncut: The Lost Prison Tapes (2009)
This is the official release of a 45-minute interview while Tupac was in prison in 1995.

Tupac: The Complete Live Performances (2006)
Only two of his performances were ever taped. Here they are.

Tupac: Resurrection (2003)
This is a moving documentary narrated in Tupac's own voice.

Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel (2002)
Follow Tupac's story with rare clips from an early interview of Pac at 17.

Websites

2Pac's Official Site
This is a great site full of updated news, clips, poetry, and discussions.

2Pac's Rolling Stone Biography
Along with a biography, Rolling Stone also includes a great news archive for everything Tupac.

Robert Sam Anson, "To Die Like a Gangsta," Vanity Fair (2013)
Here's a great piece on Tupac, his controversial life, and his controversial death.

Chuck Philips, "Tupac Shakur: 'I Am Not a Gangster,'" Los Angeles Times (1995)
A 24-year-old Shakur gives a great Q&A in this 1995 article, about a year before his death.

Video & Audio

"Dear Mama" Music Video
We're not crying. You're crying.