Zainab Mahdi

Professor Ramos

English 1B, 9O’clock



Dear Mama

While the hip hop music that was developed in the United States by inner city African American in the 1970’s knowns for the musical style incorporating rhythmic and/or rhyming speech that became the movement’s most lasting and influential art form which was performed mostly by unemployed people rapping about personal struggles, being poor, violence and more; Dear Mama by Tupac was new opening to rapping about express feelings toward someone you love to appreciate them for all what they did to you , this is considered to be modern style ode. Tupac is a famous American rapper and actor. He is considered by many people to have been one of the best rappers and the most influential of all time in music era. As Tupac got older, he started to see the bigger picture, and the struggles of blacks, especially in poverty. He knowns that he wanted to show the world what he’s seen, he felt that if he showed people the graphics of the street, it would help it stop it. He was speaking in all his songs about what is real and happening in the society.

The emotional song Dear Mama by Tupac is a real life story. It express the obstacles a person can face and go through in their life which is a lot of people in the world can relate to. Tupac explains throughout the music video the circumstances of poverty, single parents, violence, and feeling hopeless. When the economic recession deepened in the 1980s, Black urban neighborhoods were hard hit and affected. One of the effected was  Afeni Shakur, Tupac mom, she ended up virtually homeless, staying with friends and family and sometimes in shelters and she was addicted to drugs because of her bad life conditions. This video began with Afeni Shakur voice over talking in the scene when she was standing in prison expressing the hardship a women can go through especially when she was pregnant with her son and  she was about to raise a child by herself with no father or family around her, instead she was in prison. She was scared that she will lose her child and will not be able to see him again. Typically, a prison only allows the mom 24 hours with her baby, before it’s placed in protective custody or given to a family member or friend on the outside. The use of this scene of the prison setting is suggestive of the struggles with poverty and crime which is real life situation.

This song strongest appeal is pathos. Tupac showed his mom as a heroic ideal for him. He shows the unconditional love for his mom and his sympathy to her for all what she did. She outshines the negative aspects of his life by providing the essentials only a mother could both physically and morally instill in her child as it says in the song “I finally understand for a woman it ain’t easy trying to raise a man You always was committed, a poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it there’s no way I can pay you back, but my plan is to show you that I understand, you are appreciated”. In these parts Tupac expresses how thankful he is for what the mom can sacrifice for her own children even though she didn’t have a lot to offer for her family, but she is trying to do her best and that’s what most parents do for us, they always bedside us in our good and hard times. Tupac used the metaphor   “You always was a black queen, mama” which compare his mom to queen in his opinion for all the things she did to him.

Another aspect in the song is the ethos. He expresses the ethos by telling the audience that he was hanging with gang culture or the drug dealers because there was no one in his life to show him the right from the wrong. “I was a fool with the big boys, breaking all the rules”, in this part he explains that he used to hang out with those dealers because they gave him protection around , and they made him feel loved, and eventually as he got older he grew into it .Being rebellious and hanging out with the wrong crowd led him to be kicked out by the age of seventeen and later on sent to prison. A lot of people go to the drug directions because of their poverty; it is more prevalent among the poor. It is a way to deal with their financial stresses or a way to cope with physical or emotional abuse for them. Tupac use of ethos was shown through the video clips. In one of the shot, the use of lowkey lighting is used to reinforce the sense of danger, and rather than glamorizing violence, the shot portrays it in a negative way. Also, this scene has implications to drugs, which is a prominent theme used throughout the rap genre.

“He passed away and I didn’t cry, because my anger wouldn’t let me feel for a stranger. They say I’m wrong and I’m heartless, but all along I was looking for a father he was gone” so this basically means the father absence in his life which leads him to go in prison due to the wrong choices he did that deals with drugs. Tupac state that he doesn’t have feeling toward his father because he wasn’t there when Tupac was in need for him instead he felt neglected so, he hung around  men in his community so he wouldn’t feel the pain of neglect from his father. The father absence has negative effects on the child’s life. For example father absence lowers children’s educational attainment and decreases the likelihood that they will graduate from high school. Also it affects their children’s likelihood of smoking cigarettes and using drugs and alcohol if you never saw a person you will not have feeling of love and emotions toward them and that’s what Tupac feels toward his father.

Dear Mama was meaningful song that express a lot of feeling and messages that made change toward the rap music and the way we think about our families. The song keeps hope to those people who are going through similar situations to keep pushing them forward. Many different people can relate to the same as what Tupac is going through. when we as adults understand why our parents chose the actions they did to discipline us or to help us learn lessons. Dear Mama was cited as a “moving and significant homage to both his own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference”. It’s really heart touching song.



Annotated Bibliography

BETNetworks. “Tupac Wishes He Could Have Been A Better Son To His Mother.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Sept. 2016,

Fujinaga, Yasumasa. “The life and times of Tupac Shakur: a griot of inner-city America and commodified African-American radicalism.” The 39th Annual Meeting the Japanese Association for American Studies. 2005.

A., Binyam. “Dear Mama – Save the Aux – Medium.” Medium, Save the Aux, 3 May 2016,

“Dear Mama.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Aug. 2018, Mama.

Sakellariou, Alexandra. “15 Things That Happen When A Baby Is Born In Prison.” BabyGaga, BabyGaga, 22 Nov. 2017,

Sutherland, Anna. “Yes, Father Absence Causes the Problems It’s Associated With.” Institute for Family Studies, 4 Feb. 2014,

Cooper, Amy. “How Tupac Shakur Changed Hip-Hop Forever.” HOT 96.9 Boston, 16 June 2017,

“Tupac Shakur Song Dear Mama to Enter US Archive.” BBC News, BBC, 23 June 2010,