50 Books By Authors of Color: Book 30
Title: Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur
Author: Michael Eric Dyson
I started this book as an audiobook but had to read the majority of it in regular paper format. I’ve admitted in the past that I wasn’t a big Tupac fan growing up. This doesn’t mean that occasionally when I’m in my kitchen and listening to my iPod Tupac isn’t played, it really just means that when his music plays I may not know all of the lyrics like my older sister. Granted I have some favorites, but really my taste in music (or lack thereof if you ask some of my friends and family members) isn’t what this post is about.
Holler If You Hear Me was an interesting read. It balanced the idealized version with the actual man but because of some of the personalized accounts it fell into the sainthood/idealization category a bit more than I would have liked. When talking about a Hip Hop icon like Tupac it’s impossible to not talk about black culture and how the two relate. Dyson does an excellent job at providing multiple viewpoints, point those that supported the so called “Thug Life” era that Tupac and others in that era glorified, and those that rebuked it. Unfortunately, it felt like Dyson drew that divisive line along the generational line which I don’t think is entirely accurate.
Dyson does however have a section of the book titled “Do We Hate Our Women: Female Per Versions” that I found absolutely fascinating. Dyson discusses Tupac’s love hate relationship with women, including his own mother. Dyson takes this chapter as an opportunity to discuss the reclaiming of the N-word among African Americans in today’s culture and compares it with the female attempt at reclaiming gendered slurs. I personally have never been a fan of the reclamation of either word but Dyson makes the argument both for and against doing so with both words.
I do agree with Dyson and others that Tupac Shakur’s life was cut extremely short. One thing that did surprise me about Tupac that I never knew is that he and I have similar taste in literature.
Overall Rating: 4/5 better than I was expecting