Savannah Johnson


English 102

July 9, 2018

You Are Appreciated Mama

“I wish I could take the pain away. If you can make it through the night there’s a brighter day. Everything will be alright if ya hold on. It’s a struggle everyday, gotta roll on” (A-Z Lyrics, 2000). These lyrics are taken from the song “Dear Mama” by Tupac Shakur. A rapper, actor, poet, thug, rival, icon. No one can deny the issue of great complexity late Tupac had. He was equally loved and hated for his lyrics about women and willingness to speak his mind from lived experiences. As noted by Smitherman, rap music has become a way for youth to voice their dissatisfaction with society employing the heritage of Black narrative history (Richardson and Scott 2002). It is hard to think most Black males coming from urban and poor neighbourhoods would express their emotions talking about their families nor rap about it. Statistics would say Black males in those urban cities would leave their family when they reach a certain amount of wealth. But in some cases, men actually look forward to taking care of their family which represents in the song “Dear Mama”. “Dear Mama” is persuasive using pathos, ethos and logos. He places his emotions and knowledge to the song which helps portray a meaning to those who are listening to the song. Only Tupac, one of the best known rappers, could rhyme about shooting someone a million times and still show reverence for his mom on the next track.


“Dear Mama” is written by Tupac Shakur to express to his mother how deeply he appreciated everything his mom has put up with. From the extra stress he caused, to how at the end of the day she still loved him no matter what circumstance, he truly understands everything she undertook once he became an adult. “I finally understand for a women it ain’t easy tryin to raise a man. You always stayed committed. A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it.” Growing up Tupac had a resistant life with disparate situations. Tupac was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1971 to Afeni Shakur who was a member of the Black Panthers which lead her to jail occasionally (as well as drugs). From that time being Tupac was committed to crimes and murder. The family that lived together; Tupac, Afeni his mom, and his sister, moved to different households into discrete states. When the family moved to Charm City, Tupac attended the Baltimore school for performing arts. He developed greater appreciation for the arts, Jazz, poetry, and acting. However presenting violence on the streets in Baltimore kept Tupac unfocused and unable to finish his performing arts training. Yet the events that precipitated in his life would be revisited later as content for some of Tupac’s songs. In work such as “Dear Mama”, Tupac dealt with his childhood poverty and his mother’s drug addiction (Morrison and Celnisha 2007). With no father being around and a mother on drugs, Tupac became a role model for his fans.

His strongest appeal is pathos and it is encrypted throughout the whole song. He makes it evident that his love for his mom is unconditional and ensures that his audience is aware of it. He admits that he initially didn’t see things in her perspective and understands all the hardship she went through. “But now the road got rough, your alone. Trying to raise two bad kids on your own. And there’s no way I can pay you back. But my plan is to show you that I understand.” The chorus of the song is another example of pathos: “Don’t you know I love you? Oh mama, I appreciate you.” It shows the never-ending love and appreciation that he has for his mother. People can relate to the feeling that nothing in their life would ever change and Tupac makes it clear that he felt that way. It gives hope to people who are going through similar struggles to keep pushing forward and eventually it will get easier. Many of us no matter race or gender can relate to the moment of realization and just what he 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.

In addition to him using ethos as another rhetorical strategy, he expresses it by telling the audience that he hung out with the local drug dealers because he didn’t have anyone to show him love or how to be a man. “I hung around with the Thugs. And even though they sold drugs. They showed a young brother love.” He learned how to be a man by learning from his mistakes and also by hanging out with is ‘Thugs’. The logos expressed in this song is used through images in the music video. It shows the changes that he made within himself and his family throughout the years. The song taught a life long lesson; material belongings aren’t as important as love and encouragement is.


In 1997, Tupac was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. People argue that Tupac was eager to be killed by his representation of a thug, “Thug Life”, being the most noticeable tattoo on his body. But the thug image was not disadvantageous to him (Fujinaga 2005). As a gangster rapper living in a world full of mistakes, he really was a promising ‘thug’ and learned to express his life through music. The struggle to transcend and elevate beyond humble origins while honoring the streets that you were raised in seems hard and Tupac was able to manage that while putting it into his songs. He was able to express ethos, pathos, and logos throughout the song. One way we can determine the effectiveness of the rhetoric strategies used in the song is by asking a simple question to ourselves or others; did the song touch them and if so what kind of way? Like being said; Tupac can rhyme about shooting someone a million times and still show reverence for his mom on the next track.


Annotated Bibliography

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.

This article gives recognition to African American hip-hop artists. It shows the biggest problems now facing the Black community is between the civil rights generation and the hip-hop generation.  The author is an associate professor and faculty of humanities. I will use this source to backup my purpose on the details of African American history.

Morrison, Carlos D., and Celnisha L. Dangerfield. “Tupac Shakur.” Icons of hip-hop: an encyclopedia of the movement, music, and culture 2 (2007): 391-416.

This book establishes the different icons of hip-hop. It describes the movement, music, and cultures of these well-known artists. The Sections about Tupac talks about how he was behind the music. Carlos D. Morrison and Celnisha L. Dangerfield are both the artist in Tupacs section and they both are professors but at different locations. I will use this source the most by explaining Tupacs lifestyle and story to his music.

Music Video:  Shakur, Tupac. “Dear Mama.” Interscope records. YouTube. YouTube.  1998. Web.  28. October .2015.

This is a music video to ‘Dear Mama’ by Tupac Shakur. I am using it as an introduction to show the video and have people listen to what the rhetorical analysis is about.

Richardson, Jeanita W., and Kim A. Scott. “Rap music and its violent progeny: America’s culture of violence in context.” Journal of Negro education (2002): 175-192.

This article discusses the way rap and hip-hop music articulate rappers anger and frustration with mainstream society. It shows how every song, rap as well, has a story behind it. Jeanita W. Richardson is a professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Kimberly A. Scott is an Associate Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department at Arizona State University. I will use this article to clarify the genres music in depth.

2PAC LYRICS- Dear Mama. (2000, August 26). A-Z Lyrics Universe. Retrieved July 5, 2018, from

This is a website that has posted the lyrics of “Dear Mama” by Tupac Shakur. Alex Maldonado fixed the lyrics on the website, in which I couldn’t find him anywhere to see further guidance. I will use these lyrics to show, describe, and backup my information on most of my essay.